President Trump’s October 9, 2019 overtures landed as music to the ears of many a grizzled immigration lawyer who persistently suffers battle fatigue from the culture of virtually never. On that day the President released a double album, each with artfully penned liner notes:
- Executive Order on Promoting the Rule of Law Through Transparency and Fairness in Civil Administrative Enforcement and Adjudication (which I dub, “TAFCAEA”).
- Executive Order on Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents (dubbed by me as, “IAGD” [with an ironic hats off to the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit] for the prior use of the abbreviation, and a consolation prize to Iron Butterfly for In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida]).
The songs of TAFCAEA and IAGD, resonating beautifully, and soothing frazzled heartstrings, make clear that in adjudicating and enforcing federal laws all covered Executive-Branch agencies must:
- publish clear guidance rules that spell out permissible and prohibited conduct by regulated parties;
- eliminate instances of “unfair surprise” so that members of the public (the regulated community) are not blindsided by unforeseen changes in how the agencies interpret federal laws;
- place any purportedly binding agency rules not published in the Federal Register (known as sub-regulatory guidance) into an indexed and searchable section of each agency’s website (or else, the “rules” go away); and
- soon announce rules of procedure governing administrative inspections and then be held accountable to comply with the published ground rules.