Divided court limits judicial review of factual issues in immigration proceedings

SCOTUS NEWS

The Supreme Court on Monday limited the ability of federal courts to review certain factual findings in immigration proceedings that determine whether non-citizens will be deported or be allowed to remain in the country.

The judgment in Patel vs. Garland was 5-4, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett writing for the majority and Justice Neil Gorsuch joining the three dissenting liberal justices.

The case involved an Indian couple – Pankajkumar Patel and his wife, Jyotsnaben – who entered the United States without permission in the 1990s. They applied for “adjustment of status”, a form of discretionary relief that protects people against deportation and makes them lawful permanent residents. Immigration officials denied their application after discovering that Patel had intentionally misrepresented his citizenship when applying for a Georgian driver’s license.

Patel, who claims he mistakenly checked the wrong box on the request, tried to appeal the denial in federal court. But the Supreme Court has ruled that a federal immigration law — 8 USC § 1252(a)(2)(B)(i) — bars federal courts from reviewing factual findings related to executive judgments. on granting discretionary immigration assistance.

“The federal courts have a very limited role to play in this process,” Barrett wrote. “Except on legal and constitutional issues, Congress has prohibited judicial review of Attorney General’s decisions denying discretionary relief from dismissal.”

Gorusch wrote a dissent joined by Justices Steven Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. He argued that the court’s decision removes an important judicial safeguard for non-citizens in deportation proceedings. “Today, the Court finds that a federal bureaucracy can make an obvious factual error, which will result in the removal of an individual from this country, and nothing can be done about it,” Gorsuch wrote.

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