A Supreme Court ruling from June is causing some judges to refuse to enforce deportation orders and to invalidate deportation cases. Immigration attorneys are arguing that the court decision set a precedent which applies to many deportation cases.
The Supreme Court case involved Wescley Pereira, a handyman from Brazil, who settled in Massachusetts in 2000. According to The Boston Globe, Pereira’s case concerns his right to apply for a green card for immigrants who have been in the country at least 10 years. These immigrants must also have strong moral character and have relatives in this country that would be hurt by their deportation. Pereira also has two children born in the U.S.
Notice to appear did not contain specific information
However, Pereira’s case was not quite that open and shut. He was arrested in 2006 for operating a vehicle while under the influence and was summoned to immigration court. His notice did not state when and where his hearing would be held. A year later, another notification was sent with specifics, but it was returned undelivered. When he did not show up for his hearing, the judge ruled he was to be deported.
In 2013, he was pulled over for not driving with his headlights on, and immigration authorities ordered him held. By this time, he had passed the 10-year mark to apply for that special kind of green card. However, the government argued the notice he received back in 2006 stopped the clock on his time in the U.S., so he could only count the time up to then. Six years is not enough time for this type of visa.
Supreme Court ruled the notice was not legal
In a vote of 8-1, the Supreme Court disagreed. The court stated because this notice did not include a time and place for a hearing, the law did not view it as a legal notice. That meant Pereira could count all his time in the U.S. toward his green card application.
The decision regarding Pereira’s notice is what immigration attorneys are using to argue their client’s undated notices are also not valid. Some attorneys have been asking for their clients’ deportations cases to be throw out, and others have asked that the deportation orders be wiped from their clients’ records.
Some judges agree, some do not
Not all judges have granted these attorney requests. However, judges in New Jersey, California, Washington and California have agreed with the attorneys regarding the undated notices. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has appealed some of the judges’ decisions regarding deportation.
For many immigrants facing removal proceedings, this could provide a way forward. However, resolution may be slow coming. There are more than 700,000 cases pending in immigration courts.