Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Supreme Court Decision Expands Relief for Thousands of Immigrants Facing Deportation; New Jersey to Begin Issuing Driver’s Licenses to All Residents Regardless of Immigration Status; ICE Limits Arrests at Courthouses
New Hope to Immigrants Facing Deportation
On Thursday, April 29, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Homeland Security failed to properly notify an immigrant regarding his obligation to appear for a hearing in removal proceedings. In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that federal law mandates that enforcement authorities include all statutorily required information – including the charges against them and where and when they must appear in court – in a single document, entitled a “notice to appear,” rather than in multiple documents spread out over days, months, or even years. Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote “the law’s terms ensure that, when the federal government seeks a procedural advantage against an individual, it will at least supply him with a single and reasonably comprehensive statement of the nature of the proceedings against him.”
The ruling will affect thousands of immigrants facing deportation across the United States. Under federal law, immigrants facing deportation may apply to have their removal proceedings canceled and be granted permanent residence – more commonly known as a “green card” – if they can prove their removal would result in extreme hardship for a U.S. citizen parent, spouse, or child. However, to be eligible for this relief, the applicant must have been residing in the United States for at least ten years prior to service of the notice to appear. For many years, immigrants were denied relief due to the issuance of this notice, even if it omitted certain critical information, such as the time, date, and location of the hearing. With this ruling, the Supreme Court has opened the door for relief for many immigrants in removal proceedings who were not served with proper notice.
If you have any questions about this ruling or its impact on your immigration status or the status of a family member, please contact an immigration attorney to review your case.
New Jersey to Begin Issuing Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants
On May 1, 2021, New Jersey is set to begin issuing driver’s licenses to all New Jersey residents who pass their driving test, regardless of immigration status. New Jersey becomes the 16th state, along with Washington, D.C., to authorize licenses to noncitizens, including those who are undocumented in the United States.
An estimated 475,000 undocumented immigrants currently reside in New Jersey, and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) expects more than 80% of these individuals will be issued driver’s licenses under the new law. While critics assert that the law is subject to manipulation through document fraud, the MVC has stated it is training all employees on how to assess and implement the new documentation requirements and identification review policies.
U.S. Authorities Limit Immigration Arrests in or Near Courthouses
On Tuesday, April 27, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that, in an effort to balance the need for immigration enforcement efforts with the need for a safe and supportive judicial system that can provide adequate justice, authorities will substantially limit immigration arrests in or near courthouses across the United States.
The new move will reverse a Trump administration policy that expanded immigration arrests in and near courthouses. Mayorkas stated that the “expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses during the prior administration had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.” Under the new policy, an immigration arrest in or near a courthouse would only be permitted if the case involved national security, someone’s life or public safety was in danger, or if there was an imminent risk of destruction of evidence in a criminal matter.