Judges assess whether federal courts have jurisdiction over appeals in immigration proceedings

After spending nearly three decades in the United States, an Indian citizen faces deportation after having “falsely represented” himself regarding his citizenship status on an application for a Georgia driver’s license, according to court records.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Monday Patel vs. Garland, examining whether federal courts have jurisdiction over appeals in immigration proceedings in a process known as the “Adjustment of status”, which allows immigrants already in the United States to become legal green card holders without having first left the country. A decision in the case could ultimately set the standard for judicial discretion in cases where immigrants seek citizenship status.

In 2012, Pankajkumar Patel was subject to deportation proceedings before an immigration judge and was charged with being in the United States without admission or parole. Patel renewed his request for adjustment to defend himself against the eviction. However, the Department of Homeland Security denied the request, arguing that the complainant was not eligible because he had mistakenly marked “yes” on a document asking him if he was a US citizen, despite his claim that he was a US citizen. had checked the citizen box by mistake.

The case stems from a 2019 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that formed a circuit split, now that federal courts have jurisdiction to review the Immigration Appeal Board. very limited.


“Unless this tribunal rules, no one other than [DHS] will decide. The agency will have had the last word on a question of inadmissibility “, noted lawyer Mark Fleming, arguing on behalf of Patel.

“Do you know how many people have applied for an adjustment of status who are deemed eligible but for whom the agency exercises its discretion not to grant an adjustment of status? Asked Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Court-appointed lawyer Taylor Meehan, who serves as the court-appointed amicus on the 11th Circuit decision, said 10 to 15 percent of claims were rejected out of the 213,000 adjustment of status claims granted this past. year. The data prompted Sotomayor to ask, “So we shouldn’t worry too much about it because it doesn’t affect a lot of people?” “

Sotomayor suggested that there are ways that a decision to eliminate judicial review could put an applicant at a disadvantage, such as work authorization visas and the citizenship path.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett focused her questions on the complications of using a rule where the courts would have discretion.

“Can you explain how the court is supposed to decide whether the removal would cause extremely unusual hardship for the spouse, child or parent?” Barrett asked, as Patel is married and has three children.


Defending on behalf of the Department of Justice, Assistant Solicitor General Austin L. Raynor provided the hypothesis of a doctor practicing legally in the United States on a work visa who then requests and is denied an adjustment of status .

The only way for him to get a review of this is not under the 11th Circuit vision of the law, but under our own, ”said Raynor, in conflict with the plaintiff’s lawyer. Because the doctor is not subject to impeachment proceedings, the solicitor general argued that there is no other administrative remedy under the law.

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