The US Supreme Court ruling, which has rapped the US government for inappropriately notifying a man who had come illegally from Guatemala to appear for a removal hearing, has come as a relief to thousands of immigrants seeking to evade deportation.
In an important verdict on Thursday, the judges reversed a lower court’s judgment that had prohibited Agusto Niz-Chavez from following his request to annul the potential expulsion based on the length of his stay in the country.
Police had stopped Niz-Chavez in 2013, eight years after he entered the country, for a broken tail light on his vehicle. The federal government followed up with a notice to appear for a deportation hearing.
The bench of senior judges ruled that federal immigration law requires authorities to include all relevant details for a notice to appear for a hearing in one document rather than sending the information across multiple documents.
“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),” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the ruling.
“In this case, the law’s terms ensure that, when the federal government seeks a procedural advantage against an individual, it will at least supply him with a single and reasonably comprehensive statement of the nature of the proceedings against him,” he added.
The ruling, it is believed, could have a bearing on hundreds of thousands of immigration cases.
Gorsuch was joined by the court’s three liberal justices as well as conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett.
However, conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, said the ruling was “perplexing as a matter of statutory interpretation and common sense”.
The ruling comes at a time when US President Joe Biden has sought to reverse his predecessor’s hard-line procedures aimed at discouraging migrants from trying to get into the US.
Under federal law, immigrants who are not lawful permanent residents may apply to have their deportation cancelled if they have been in the US for at least 10 years.
The time counted to reach that threshold ends when the government initiates immigration proceedings with a notice to appear, a limit known as the “stop-time” rule.
Meanwhile, Biden administration continues to be under fire over growing humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border, where an influx of refugee fleeing violence and economic hardship in Central and South America.
More than 10-thousand kids, including many of those forcibly separated from their parents, are now in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services as US officials are struggling to process them.
Democratic Senator Mark Kelly from Arizona has slammed US President Joe Biden for not presenting a comprehensive plan to address the humanitarian crisis of migrants.
“While I share President Biden’s urgency in fixing our broken immigration system, what I didn’t hear tonight was a plan to address the immediate crisis at the border, and I will continue holding this administration accountable to deliver the resources and staffing necessary for a humane, orderly process as we work to improve border security, support local economies, and fix our immigration system," Kelly said in a statement following Biden's speech on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar condemned “shameful” Biden for reneging on his refugee promise and keeping in place Trump administration’s cap on refugee admissions.
Omar and few other lawmakers urged Biden in a letter to raise the Trump-era cap of 15,000 to 62,500, which the Biden administration had proposed to Congress earlier this year.