Breaking: Supreme Court Upholds Immigration and Deportation Laws!

Written by Rachel Whitman.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a crucial immigration law on Friday, reinforcing the requirement for deportation of illegal immigrants. This ruling emerged from three consolidated cases in Campos-Chaves v. Garland, which were on appeal in the Fifth and Ninth circuits. The appellate courts had issued conflicting decisions, prompting the Supreme Court’s intervention.

The cases involved foreign nationals who entered the U.S. illegally and were deemed “inadmissible” under federal law. They received Notices to Appear (NTA) that mandated their presence at future immigration court hearings. Failing to attend these hearings, federal immigration judges ordered their removal in absentia as per the law established by Congress.

In response, the individuals sued, demanding that their removal orders be rescinded, claiming they did not receive proper written notification. They also challenged the definition of “change” in their orders and presented other technical arguments. However, the Supreme Court ruled against them in a 5-4 decision. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett concurring. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson filed the dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Neil Gorsuch.

Details of the Cases and Court’s Rationale

The majority opinion held that the federal government had adhered to the law and provided appropriate notification. The dissenting justices argued that the federal government continued issuing “facially defective NTAs.” Justice Alito wrote that the three consolidated cases were brought by “aliens who moved for rescission on the ground that they did not receive proper notice. Though the facts vary, the key details are the same in each case.”

He explained that when each alien failed to attend their hearing, an immigration judge ordered their removal in absentia. Each individual sought to rescind the order, but immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals refused to reopen the proceedings, prompting the individuals to petition for review in federal court.

The court concluded, “Because each of the aliens in these cases received a proper paragraph notice for the hearings they missed and at which they were ordered removed, they cannot seek rescission of their in absentia removal orders on the basis of defective notice.”

Background and Implications of the Ruling

One plaintiff, Moris Esmelis Campos-Chaves, an El Salvadoran citizen, entered the U.S. illegally near Laredo, Texas, in 2005. He did not attend his court hearing three days later, and an immigration judge denied his request to reopen the removal proceedings 13 years later. He then appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which also denied his petition.

Another plaintiff, Varinder Singh, an Indian citizen, illegally entered the U.S. in 2016 by climbing a fence in Calexico, California. Despite receiving multiple hearing notices, Singh failed to attend a 2018 hearing, resulting in an in absentia removal order. In 2019, he sought to rescind the order and petitioned the Ninth Circuit.

Raul Daniel Mendez-Colin, a Mexican citizen, entered the U.S. illegally in San Luis, Arizona, in 2001 by falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen. After multiple hearings in 2002, which he and/or his attorney attended, he failed to show up to his last hearing in 2003, leading to his removal order in absentia. Fifteen years later, he appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

In Singh’s and Mendez-Colin’s cases, a panel of three Ninth Circuit judges granted their petitions. However, the federal government petitioned for a rehearing en banc for both cases, which were denied. The government then petitioned the Supreme Court, which upheld the Fifth Circuit’s judgment and reversed and vacated the Ninth Circuit’s judgments for Mendez-Colin and Singh, respectively.

Justice Alito cited a previous 2022 ruling debunking the plaintiffs’ claims, stating, “It would be nonsensical to invalidate an in absentia removal order because two kinds of notice were not received when only one was required in the first place.”

The ruling sets a precedent for future cases, particularly as the Biden administration has begun issuing NTAs with court dates scheduled years in advance. This decision could impact roughly 200,000 deportation cases dismissed by immigration judges because the Department of Homeland Security did not file paperwork on time for scheduled hearings.

Our Take

The Supreme Court’s decision reinforces the importance of adhering to established immigration laws. This ruling ensures that the process for handling illegal immigrants remains consistent and legally sound. It also underscores the necessity for immigrants to comply with legal procedures and attend scheduled hearings. This decision is vital for maintaining the integrity of our immigration system and upholding the rule of law.

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