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U.S. Supreme Court expands review of deportation orders

Court appeals may be the only avenue to stop the wrongful deportation of immigrants. But some appeals were limited until a Supreme Court decision that was issued this month expanding the review of immigration deportation orders.

Federal law, the limited review provision, restricts the appellate courts’ review of board of immigration appeals decisions to issues involving constitutional claims or questions of law. Immigrants convicted of certain crimes, subjecting them to deportation, could not seek federal court review of factual matters concerning their deportation issues.

On March 23, however, the Supreme Court ruled that appellate courts can review the board’s application of law to undisputed facts. In accordance with its 7-2 decision, the Court returned the case to lower courts to determine whether the board incorrectly ruled on whether two immigrants timely filed their motions to reopen their deportation cases.

The Supreme Court reversed the fifth circuit court of appeals which has jurisdiction over federal district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.  The Court’s decision allows two immigrants to seek federal court review of how persistently they sought their motions to reopen their cases.

But the Court’s decision is also more expansive and does not restrict review to facts involving procedural motions in immigration cases. It broadly ruled that Congress did not prevent federal appeals courts from reviewing the board’s application of law to settled facts in any removal appeals from noncitizens with certain criminal convictions.

Federal appeals courts are still prevented from reviewing other factual questions posed by noncitizens convicted of certain crimes who are challenging their removal orders. Federal appeals courts, instead of district courts, will still have the power to remove removal orders of these immigrants.

This decision may impact many deportation cases and hamper efforts to expedite deportation cases of immigrants with certain criminal convictions. An attorney can help immigrants protect their rights and legal status.