These cases involve how the First Circuit should determine whether an immigration petition for review was properly filed at the First Circuit. Since the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Herrera-Alcala v. Garland, 39 F.4th 233 (4th Cir. June 30, 2022), Immigration Judges (IJs) from the Richmond Immigration Adjudication Center in Virginia -- who regularly hear Boston Immigration Court cases by video -- started to apply Fourth Circuit law instead of First Circuit law. These IJs cite Herrera-Alcala for this position because the Fourth Circuit held that the location of the IJ controls the judicial venue for a petition for review. Because the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) constantly changes the assignment of IJs who are hearing Boston Immigration Court cases—including to locations outside the First Circuit where IJs appear via video—the current situation hampers the ability of practitioners to meaningfully advise noncitizens on the choice of law that applies in their removal cases. To resolve this chaos, the ACLU-NH is representing multiple organizations/attorneys as amici in these cases. Our position is that the First Circuit should follow the Second Circuit’s decision in Sarr v. Garland, 50 F.4th 326 (2d Cir. 2022), and conclude that the First Circuit is an appropriate venue for any petition for review if the charging document was filed in any immigration court within the First Circuit's jurisdiction, regardless of the IJ’s or noncitizen’s location.
On August 4, 2023, the First Circuit agreed with the ACLU-NH, holding that judicial venue for a petition for review exists in the circuit court where the proceedings commenced, which is where the charging document was filed, unless a formal change of venue has been effected.