Supreme Court Rulings Make Immigration Removal Challenges More Difficult
March 14, 2023
The Supreme Court has issued several rulings in recent years that have made it more difficult for immigrants to challenge their removal from the United States.
One of the most significant rulings was the 2018 decision in Pereira v. Sessions, which held that a notice to appear in immigration court must include the time and date of the hearing to trigger the stop-time rule for determining eligibility for cancellation of removal. This decision made it more difficult for immigrants who had received incomplete or defective notices to appear to argue that they had accrued the necessary years of continuous presence in the United States to qualify for relief from removal.
Another important ruling was the 2020 decision in DHS v. Thuraissigiam, which limited the ability of immigrants to seek habeas corpus relief from removal orders. The Court held that a federal statute that bars habeas corpus petitions by detained noncitizens seeking to challenge their removal orders is constitutional, even when the petition alleges that the noncitizen is being removed in violation of their constitutional rights.
These and other rulings have made it more difficult for immigrants to challenge their removal from the United States and have raised concerns among advocates about the fairness of the immigration system.
Immigration Code Does Not Require a Bond Hearing
While the immigration code does not explicitly require a bond hearing for detained noncitizens, the Supreme Court has held that noncitizens have a due process right to a bond hearing, where they can argue for their release from detention while their immigration case is pending.
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Jennings v. Rodriguez that the immigration statute does not require bond hearings, but also held that noncitizens have a constitutional right to a hearing under the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
The Court explained that the government has a strong interest in detaining noncitizens who are flight risks or pose a danger to the community, but that this interest must be balanced against the individual’s liberty interest in being free from detention. The Court held that a bond hearing is necessary to determine whether continued detention is justified and that noncitizens must be allowed to argue for their release under reasonable terms and conditions.
In response to the Jennings decision, the Department of Homeland Security issued a policy memo in 2019 that established procedures for conducting bond hearings for detained noncitizens. However, the Trump administration sought to limit the availability of bond hearings by requiring that noncitizens show that they are not a danger or a flight risk, a standard that was later struck down by federal courts.
Overall, while the immigration code does not explicitly require a bond hearing, the Supreme Court has recognized that noncitizens have a constitutional right to such a hearing under the Due Process Clause.
Constitutional Claims Will Go Back to the Lower Courts
If the Supreme Court rules on a constitutional claim in a case, and the lower court’s decision was based on a different legal issue, the case will usually be sent back to the lower courts for further proceedings.
When the Supreme Court hears a case, it typically addresses specific legal issues that have been raised by the parties in the case. In some cases, these legal issues may include constitutional claims, such as a claim that a law or government action violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech or the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
If the Supreme Court rules on a constitutional claim, but the lower court’s decision was based on a different legal issue, the case will typically be sent back to the lower courts for further proceedings. This is known as a “remand” and is common in cases where the Supreme Court has addressed only one of several legal issues that were raised in the case.
For example, if a noncitizen raises a constitutional claim that their detention violates due process, but the lower court had denied relief based on a different legal issue, such as a finding that the noncitizen was not eligible for relief under the immigration statute, the Supreme Court may rule on the constitutional claim and then remand the case to the lower court to consider the noncitizen’s eligibility for relief under the immigration statute.
In such cases, the lower court will need to determine how the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutional claim affects the noncitizen’s case and what further proceedings are necessary to resolve the remaining legal issues.
Class-Action Relief Denied
In a class action lawsuit, a group of individuals collectively sue a defendant for the same or similar claims. If the court denies class-action relief, it means that the case cannot proceed as a class action and each plaintiff must sue the defendant individually.
The court may deny class-action relief for a variety of reasons, such as:
- The plaintiffs fail to satisfy the requirements for class certification, such as showing that the claims of the class members are sufficiently similar to warrant treating them as a single group.
- The plaintiffs fail to show that they have a common question of law or fact that predominates over individual questions, which is necessary for class certification under federal law.
- The plaintiffs fail to show that a class action is a superior method for resolving the claims, such as when individualized issues predominate over common issues.
When class-action relief is denied, it can significantly impact the ability of the plaintiffs to pursue their claims. Because each plaintiff must pursue their claim on their own, it can be more expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to litigate their case.
In the context of immigration law, class-action relief may be sought in cases involving a large number of noncitizens who have been subject to the same unlawful government action, such as mass detention or deportation. If class-action relief is denied, noncitizens may be forced to pursue their claims individually, which can be challenging and resource-intensive.