Supreme Court Ruling Opens More Doors for Immigrants

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling for Pereira v. Sessions has asserted that undocumented immigrants who are targeted for deportation must first be given a clear time and date for their deportation hearing. Previously, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were notorious for providing generalized notifications for when an undocumented immigrant would have to appear in court to defend themselves from forced deportation or removal. While the ruling appears directed to solve just one recent issue, the ramifications actually reach far into the past to correct immigration processes and immigration law.

Pereira v. Sessions has brought attention to a decades-old Department of Homeland Security (DHS) practice of serving arguably incomplete Notices to Appear (NTA), which are similar to the insufficient deportation initiation documents ICE has been utilizing. If one document has become invalid due to deficiencies, then it makes sense to argue the other has the same inexcusable flaws. In the event Notices to Appear from the DHS are found to be unenforceable due to a lack of clarity and completion, it would mean countless immigrants would be reprieved of forced removal.

Key Details of Pereira’s Removal Case

In order to get a better idea of what could happen, we need to know more about what did happen to Pereira that triggered the United States Supreme Court review and ruling. Mr. Wescley Pereira, who is native to Brazil, came to the United States in 2000 using a visitor visa, but he did not leave when it expired. Instead, he married a woman and had two children, who are both citizens by birthright. When he was arrested for a DUI in 2006, the DHS swooped in the give him a Notice to Appear in an immigration court in Boston, but the date and time for the hearing were not set.

The next year, the DHS moved the case forward by filing the same Notice to Appear with the Boston Immigration Court. The agency then sent Pereira via mail a specific time and date for the hearing, but it failed to actually send the notification to the address he provided. Not having any knowledge of the updated hearing date and time, Pereira understandably did not go to the hearing and the court entered a default judgement against him in favor of his removal.

Several years later in 2013 when Pereira was arrested for driving without headlights at night. The DHS jumped at the chance to detain him, as it appeared from their viewpoint that he had been evading removal. Of course, in reality, he never knew about the removal order at all.

Understanding the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling

In review of everything that led to Pereira’s ordered removal, the Supreme Court held that an incomplete Notice to Appear with no clear time or date for a hearing cannot be considered an official notice by any legal standard. Therefore, Pereira did not get any enforceable or justified Notice to Appear and the deportation proceedings could never rightfully begin. As a result of the ruling, Pereira has been granted the possibility to argue for his removal’s cancellation due to the fact he had been within the country continuously for 10 years.

Justice Sotomayor appeared flabbergasted in her ruling statement, noting that modern technology should have made it simple for the DHS and immigration courts to collaborate and set a hearing time and date before actually mailing out a Notice to Appear. Due to the blanket effect of the ruling, any other nonpermanent residents and noncitizens who have been in the country continuously for at least a decade can also petition for a removal cancellation as long as they only received an NTA without a specific hearing time and date.

Queens Immigration Lawyer Fighting for Your Right to Remain in the U.S.A.

What immigrants from all corners of the world and who arrived in the U.S. for a variety of reasons need to realize is the DHS has largely sent Notices to Appear without specific hearing scheduling since 1996. If you or someone you know has been given an NTA to begin deportation procedures, be sure to double-check it for a time and date. The odds are incredibly high that there will not be enough or any hearing schedule information included on the NTA, and it will be considered invalid.

Not sure what to do to contest your removal after realizing your NTA was never valid to begin with? Come to Musa Obregon & Associates and talk to our immigration attorneys in Queens about your options. With more than 100 years of collective legal experience serving clients throughout New York City, we are the law firm you can trust with a sensitive, high-stakes deportation defense case like yours.

Call 888.502.8461 now to get a free case evaluation with our team.
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