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April 2021

Supreme Court Sides With Undocumented Immigrant in Recent Case

The Supreme Court sided with an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant today in a 6-3 decision. Agusto Niz-Chavez, who brought the case, had illegally crossed the border in 2005, eventually settling in Detroit. The government initiated removal proceedings against him in 2013 and sent him a notice of the charges. Only later did the government send a second notice with the date and time of his court appearance. It is this delay that Niz-Chavez found issue with. According to the law of the United States, immigrants are only eligible to appeal for removal after ten years of consistent residency within the country. Once a notice to appear is issued, this clock ends. Niz-Chavez argued that the multiple notices he received did not technically constitute the single notice described in the law.

The dispute is more than semantic, as noted by Chief Justice Neil Gorsuch. It involves the duty of the government to provide an individual with a single comprehensive notice of the proceedings they face. In this case, the court did not only side with Niz-Chavez, but also provided a counter to the increasingly expedited removal process many undocumented immigrants are faced with.

The applications of this ruling are important and broad. This ruling can be the basis to re-open removal orders that were issued in proceedings when a person was NOT deemed eligible to file for cancellation. The ruling should be the basis of motions to terminate current proceedings that are based on defective NTAs.

President Biden Nominates Harris County Sheriff to Head ICE

President Biden will be nominating Ed Gonzalez to serve as director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gonzalez has served as sheriff to Texas’ most populous county since 2017, prior to which he served on the Houston City Council. Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a long-time critic of former president Donald Trump and his immigration policies. In 2017, he ended a partnership with ICE that authorized local officials to enforce federal immigration laws. Through Twitter, Gonzalez denounced the ICE raids that became normalized under the Trump administration, and reassured residents that the Harris County Sheriff’s Office would not be participating. Based on these past condemnations, Ed Gonzalez’s nomination may signify a more progressive path away from the reprehensible history U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has etched thus far.

AILA Virtual National Day of Action

Last week, Ellen participated in AILA’s 2021 Virtual Day of Action. The purpose of the day was to advocate to our legislators in D.C. to:


  • Hold USCIS accountable for inefficient policy changes and crisis-level processing delays, and to return it to its customer-oriented mission.
  • Reform our immigration courts.
  • Reduce and phase out the use of immigration detention.
  • Provide a pathway to citizenship for the thousands of immigrants who call America home.

The New England delegation stood as a united front, raising new and important ideas. Hopefully, the passion and advocacy of the group will translate into legislative change on the Hill.

Biden Changes the Official Rhetoric Regarding Immigration


In the midst of an immigration debate characterized by harsh words and alienation, President Biden has taken steps to change the rhetoric with which we approach the topic. Through detailed memos issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department, the Biden administration has ordered U.S. immigration agencies to replace the words “illegal alien” and “assimilation” with “undocumented noncitizen” and “integration” respectively. This applies to internal communication and external correspondence. A similar change in rhetoric has already been enacted within the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

The decision, while small, still matters. The words we use influence the way we perceive ideas, things, and people. According to Troy Miller, a top official at Customs and Border Protection, “we set a tone and example for our country and partners around the world.”  Respect must define our entire approach to immigration, in both action and rhetoric. 

George W. Bush Criticizes GOP Approach to Immigration

In a series of interviews held this past weekend, former George W. Bush distanced himself from his party on the topic of immigration. On NBC’s Today show, he said the Republican party he served has become “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist.” He also criticized the fear mongering tactics of many anti-immigrant Republicans. In a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, George W. Bush advocated for bipartisan solutions in addressing the shortcomings of the current immigration system. Through a CBS interview, Bush asked Congress to “put aside all the harsh rhetoric about immigration” and stated his goal to “set a tone that is more respectful about the immigrant.” Later in the interview, the former president also expressed his disappointment in the failures of the American government in enacting immigration reform. He also gave his support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 

These statements correlate with the message of his new book, which aims to humanize and appreciate the immigrants that compose this country. It is a refreshing contrast to the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric currently defining a sizable portion of the immigration debate. George W. Bush’s pro-immigrant stance also reminds the country that respecting immigrants is not a partisan idea, but should rather be the practice of all.

© Copyright 2014 Law Office of Ellen Sullivan, P.C. This website does not constitute a representation agreement with Attorney Sullivan or anyone else at the firm. The information on this website is not intended to, nor does it in fact, replace legal advice provided by an attorney in an attorney-client consultation. Please contact our office or another immigration attorney if you would like legal counsel. Sitemap