Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Just Say No.....to Wikipedia

If the BIA's decision in Matter of L-A-C-, 26 I&N Dec. 516 (BIA 2015) lives on in the annals of important BIA decisions it will probably be the discussion regarding continuances in removal proceedings or because of the decision's value to IJs in justifying their demand for more corroborating evidence even when the applicant's testimony is credible.

It could also be because the decision is a strong reminder of the wide discretion immigration judges exercise when determining whether to grant a continuance.  Basically, after of the legal analysis is finished, everything comes down to whether the IJ wants to grant the continuance or not.

But I really do not want to talk about an IJ's discretion to grant or deny a motion to continue.  It is such a boring topic, and depending on your IJ, it can be a depressing topic.  Instead, the most interesting thing to me was the BIA's explicit finding that Wikipedia entries are not the best evidence.

Citing Badasa v. Mukasey, 540 F.3d 909 (8th Cir. 2008), the BIA noted "Wikipedia articles lack indicia of reliability and warrant very limited probative weight in immigration proceedings."  In English: Wikipedia entries are the worst form of evidence, so they will not be given any weight by the BIA.  This may or may not be news to you (I hope it is not), but if it is, now you know.

Wikipedia entries: the poster child for bad evidence?

As attorneys, we all try things that do not work out.  Sometimes we even do dumb things.  I am not trying to rake the attorney in L-A-C- over the coals for submitting a Wikipedia entry.  The more creative we get and the more we try and think outside of the box, the more likely we are to get burned.  Of course, this does not mean we should not continue trying to employ creative strategies to more effectively represent our clients. Especially in Central American asylum cases, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Occasionally taking risks pays off.

I only want to point out that submitting Wikipedia entries as evidence in removal proceedings can now safely be added to the list of things that do not work.  I think we can safely bury that issue.

Farewell to thee Wikipedia entries in removal proceedings.  We hardly knew thee.....


Just say no to Wikipedia articles in removal proceedings.  Even though sometimes they are kind of awesome...

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