The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that federal courts cannot review decisions of immigration judges in certain deportation cases, even when the government has committed what Judge Neil Gorsuch called ” glaring factual errors”.
the the court ruled against a Georgian man, Pankajkumar Patel, who has lived in the United States for 30 years and faces deportation because he checked the wrong box on a driver’s license application indicating he was a US citizen.
In a vote of 5 to 4, the majority interpreted the law in question as limiting the review of remedies by the courts and leaving it to the discretion of immigration officials to apply, in the case of factual dispute, whether a person is eligible for this discretion in removal cases.
“Today’s decision allows immigration officials to make discretionary decisions based on totally flawed assumptions about the immigrant. The official may know they are wrong, or it may be based on honest error. But in any case, our courts exist to correct such errors and allow everyone to be treated fairly,” Paul Gordon, legislative counsel for People for the American Way, told VOA.
According to court documents, in 2007 Patel and his wife, Jyotsnaben, submitted a request to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change their immigration status under the Code’s Discretionary Adjustment. of status, which would have made Patel and his wife legit. permanent residents.
USCIS was aware that Patel had previously checked a box on a driver’s license application falsely stating that he was a US citizen while his adjustment of status application was pending.
He then rejected Patel’s application, saying he did not meet the requirements to be legally eligible for permanent residency. He was charged with making a false statement, but the charges were later dropped.
According to documents filed in the case, Patel said he mistakenly checked the box on his license renewal application. His lawyers argued that US officials could not conclude that Patel willfully misrepresented himself as a citizen because Georgia does not require a resident to be a US citizen to receive a driver’s license.
Yet the US Department of Homeland Security placed him and his wife in deportation proceedings.
Today’s ruling was written by Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who said that while the US Attorney General can authorize protection from deportation, people must first qualify. And, in line with previous rulings in Patel’s case, he was not eligible.
“The federal courts have a very limited role to play in this process,” Barrett wrote, adding that the immigration law “precludes judicial review of factual findings that underlie a denial of relief.”
But Justice Neil Gorsuch parted ways with his conservative colleagues to join three dissenting liberal justices.
He said Monday’s decision will act as a shield to protect the government from the “embarrassment” of having to correct even obvious mistakes.
“It’s no secret that when processing applications, licenses and permits, the government sometimes makes mistakes. Often it’s petty names — a misspelled name, a misplaced app. … Our case is such a case. An immigrant to this country has applied for legal residency,” he wrote.
The government denied his request, allegedly, on the basis of a glaring factual error, according to Gorsuch.
“In such circumstances, our law has long allowed individuals to ask a court to look into the matter and correct any errors. No more. … As a result, no court can correct even the agency’s most egregious factual errors regarding an individual’s legal eligibility for a remedy,” Gorsuch added.
Patel and his wife, Jyotsnaben, entered the United States illegally about 30 years ago after leaving India. He requested an adjustment of status with the support of his employer. The couple have three adult sons.
The Supreme Court ruling means Patel is unable to challenge the potential deportation in court.
“Today’s decision finds a loophole that will likely hurt a lot of people. Immigration officials will have less incentive to get their facts straight if they know there won’t be a judge to check their work,” Gordon added.