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Patel V Garland Supreme Court Decision

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Patel V Garland Supreme Court Decision

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court held that federal courts lack jurisdiction to review facts found during discretionary relief proceedings and other provisions.

This applies to Pankajkumar Patel and his wife Jyotsnaben. In 2007, the couple applied for adjustment to become lawful permanent residents. Part of any adjustment of status application requires the applicant proving they warrant an “exercise of favorable discretion” from the immigration officer. In other words, applicants for residency must show that they “deserve” to have their residency application because their life presents more positives than negatives.

Patel had applied to renew his Georgia driver’s license. In the application, he checked a box that stated he was a U.S. citizen. Immigration law has harsh penalties for individuals who falsely claim to be U.S. citizens, whether in writing or not, and often times even if done so unintentionally. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied Patel’s application for lawful permanent residency, as he falsely represented himself as a U.S. citizen.

Afterwards, the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiated removal proceedings against Patel and his wife. Patel asked for relief from removal as he accidentally checked the citizen box on the residency application. The Immigration Judge determined that Patel intentionally checked the box, and ordered for the removal of both he and his wife. Patel filed a petition for review at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider his claim, as under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(B)(i), it does not have jurisdiction to review any appeals from judgment relating to the granting of relief, unless the judgment concerns constitutional claims or questions of law..

Patel appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an opinion led by Justice Barrett, alongside Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Eleventh Circuit, holding that under federal immigration law, federal courts are prohibited from judicial review found during discretionary relief proceedings. In other words, the Supreme Court held that it will not overturn factual findings agencies, such as DHS or the Immigration Court, make in cases involving discretionary forms of relief or immigration applications involving discretionary elements.

Keep in mind though, the Supreme Court only held it would not review factual findings or determinations; legal errors by agencies (i.e. misapplications of law, etc.) are still potentially open for judicial review. Justices Gorsuch, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan filed a dissent, in which they believe courts should have more power to be able to correct factual mistakes in cases such as Patel’s.

The case now limits the availability of judicial review to many non-citizens who are seeking an immigraton benefit with USCIS or protection from deportation at an Immigration Court. This area of law can be confusing and tricky, so if you are involved in a similar situation, it may be best to consult an Immigration Attorney.

If you have questions regarding the Patel V Garland Supreme Court case, or any immigration policies and/or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to Ibrahim Law Office of Chicago.

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