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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.

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