Federal Courts Rule on Immigration Cases

There have been three major immigration-related court decisions recently handed down by the federal courts. Two have been Supreme Court decisions, and one is from a federal court in California.

The first Supreme Court decision was in Pereira v. Sessions. In this nearly unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that a Notice to Appear, which is the charging document used by the Department of Homeland Security to place noncitizens into immigration court proceedings, is defective if it does not include the date and time of the individual's first court hearing. This case was brought by an individual arguing that the "stop-time rule," which applies to individuals requesting Cancellation of Removal, should not have applied to him because his Notice to Appear did not include a date and time for his first court hearing. The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, agreed. However, they went even further and stated that a Notice to Appear that does not comply with the date and time requirements is defective in any situation, regardless of the relief being sought. The vast majority of Notices to Appear do not state a date or time, as the Department of Homeland Security does not coordinate this with the court when they issue the Notice. Immigration Judges will now be faced with the decision of how to proceed in these cases. Under a plain reading of the Supreme Court's decision, these cases should be terminated since the immigration court was not properly vested with jurisdiction over the noncitizen's case.

The second Supreme Court decision dealt with President Trump's most recent travel ban. The President signed an Executive Order in September that sought to limit the issuance of visas to individuals from certain countries that he believes pose a threat to the United States. Most of the countries on the list are Muslim-majority countries, leading to a challenge of the Order on the grounds that it discriminated on the basis of religion. The Supreme Court held that the most recent version of the travel ban is within the President's rights and duties of protecting national security. The travel ban limits visas for individuals from Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Venezuela.

The final court decision this week came from a Federal Court Judge in San Diego, California. This case dealt with the current border crisis, and the separation of children from their parents as they cross the southern border. The judge issued a nationwide injunction that should stop federal authorities from separating children from their parents. The judge also ordered that all previously separated families be reunited within thirty days. This decision will likely be challenged by the Department of Justice.

If you or someone you know may be effected by these court rulings, please contact Reilly Immigration to schedule a consultation.