The US Supreme Court ruled on Monday that federal courts cannot modify the decisions of immigration judges in certain deportation cases, even though the government called Justice Neil Gorsuch “serious factual inaccuracies.”
The court ruled against A Georgia man, Pankajkumar Patel, who has lived in the United States for 30 years and faces deportation because he checked the wrong box on a driving license application claiming he was a US citizen.
In a 5–4 vote, a majority interpreted the law on the issue to limit courts from considering relief and leave it to the discretion of immigration officials to apply it in factual dispute cases as to whether a person is involved in removal cases. eligible for that discretionary relief.
“Today’s decision allows immigration officials to make discretionary decisions based entirely on misconceptions about the immigrant. Officers may know they are liars, or it may be based on an honest mistake. But either way “Our courts exist to allow such wrongs to be corrected and all people to be treated fairly,” People for the American Way’s legislative attorney, Paul Gordon, told VOA.
According to court documents, in 2007, Patel and his wife, Jyotsnaben, sent an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change their immigration status under a discretionary adjustment of the status code, making Patel and his wife legal. Would be Permanent Resident.
USCIS was aware that Patel had previously checked a box on a driver’s license application stating that he was a US citizen, while his petition to adjust the status was pending.
It then rejected Patel’s application saying that he failed to meet the requirements to be legally acceptable for permanent residence. He was charged with making a false statement, but the charges were later dropped.
According to the filing in the case, Patel said that he had checked the box by mistake in his license renewal application. His lawyers argued that US officials could not conclude that Patel had misrepresented himself as a citizen because Georgia does not require one to be a US citizen to obtain a driver’s license.
Nevertheless, the US Department of Homeland Security placed him and his wife in removal proceedings.
Today’s ruling was written by Justice Amy Connie Barrett, who said that although the US Attorney General can allow protection from deportation, people must be eligible first. And, as per previous judgments in Patel’s case, he was ineligible.
“Federal courts have a very limited role in this process,” Barrett wrote, adding that immigration law “prevents judicial review of factual findings that deny relief.”
But Justice Neil Gorsuch, along with his conservative colleagues, joined three liberal judges in the disagreement.
He said Monday’s decision would act as a shield to save the government the “embarrassment” of correcting obvious errors.
“It’s no secret that governments sometimes make mistakes when processing applications, licenses and permits. Often, they are short – a misspelled name, a misspelled application. … Our case is one such case.” An immigrant from this country applied for legal residency,” he wrote.
According to Gorsuch, the government rejected his application allegedly on the basis of an apparent factual error.
“In circumstances like these, our law has long allowed individuals to petition a court to consider the question and to rectify any wrongdoing. No more. … As a result, no court relief cannot correct even the most serious factual mistakes of the agency regarding an individual’s statutory eligibility for
Patel and his wife Jyotsnaben left India and entered the US illegally about 30 years ago. He applied for adjustment of position with the support of his employer. The couple has three adult sons.
The Supreme Court ruling means that Patel is not able to challenge the possible deportation in court.
“Today’s decision finds a loophole that will hurt a lot of people. Immigration officers will have less incentive to get their facts right when they know there won’t be a judge checking their work,” Gordon said.
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