A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling has given hope to many people who came to the United States illegally. This is because the case involved a man from Guatemala who had been living here since 1987 and had built a life here despite his unlawful status. He was ordered by an Immigration court to be deported and removed. However, because the federal government failed to notify him of it properly the Supreme Court found his deportation to be illegal.
What Does The Decision Say?
The Supreme Court granted relief for Mr. Niz-Chavez and ruled that he can now pursue a request to cancel the attempted deportation based on having lived in the United States for many years.
The Court adopted a strict way to read and interpret an important portion of the immigration law. That law says that the government has to properly serve a "notice to appear" for the stop-time rule to apply. That stop-time rule can prevent access to immigration relief by preventing noncitizens from accruing the time required for eligibility. In accordance with the Supreme Court opinion, in order for a person to be eligible to seek cancellation of removal and deportation, they must first be properly served with an official document (Notice to Appear) by the US Department of Homeland Security outlining all relevant information including the date and time of the hearing. The court found that a single document is necessary for proper notice of an immigration hearing.
The decision was written by one of the more conservative Justices of the Court and he was extremely clear in setting forth what Immigration must do in order to properly and legally begin the legal process to deport somebody.
The decision points out that “Anyone who has applied for a passport, filed for Social Security benefits, or sought a license understands the government's affinity for forms. Make a mistake or skip a page? Go back and try again, sometimes with a penalty for the trouble. But it turns out the federal government finds some of its forms frustrating too,”
The Justice then pointed out that for over a quarter of a century our immigration laws require a completely filled out Notice to Appear for people the government wants to deport.
Justice Gorsuch continued..“At first blush, a notice to appear might seem to be just that — a single document containing all the information an individual needs to know about his removal hearing. But, the government says, supplying so much information in a single form is too taxing. It needs more flexibility, allowing its officials to provide information in separate mailings (as many as they wish) over time (as long as they find convenient),”
The court acknowledged that a lot seemed to be hanging on one word, but said that the court's role is to make sure the executive branch does not exceed the power Congress gave it.
“Interpreting the phrase ‘a notice to appear' to require a single notice — rather than 2 or 20 documents — does just that,” wrote Justice Gorsuch.
How Does This Help You?
We can not understate what an important decision this is for anyone who previously received a deportation/removal order or those who are currently in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court.
Up until a couple of years ago, it seems that the majority of people who came to our office about a pending deportation or removal matter had received an improper Notice to Appear (NTA). Almost all of them did not set a date or time for the removal hearing. Instead, ICE got into the terrible (and illegal) habit of just writing "to be set" by the date and time portions.
The U.S. Supreme Court has now clearly and definitively ruled that the government must provide proper notice to immigrants before even beginning the process of deporting them. In the hands of an experienced Immigration attorney, this decision could positively affect thousands of people who are facing deportation orders and have been living in America for years.
The ruling is a huge win for undocumented immigrants across the country who were hoping to find some relief from their deportation and removal orders after months or even years of living in fear and uncertainty.
What to do next?
It's simple. If you have ever been ordered removed by an Immigration Court or if you are currently in removal proceedings find your Notice to Appear among your paperwork. Even if you no longer have a copy, we can get a copy from the Immigration court. If you want this decision to help you, then contact our office. We will tell you what to do next.