On Monday January 8, the Supreme Court heard consolidated pleadings For Campos-Chavez v. Garland And Garland v. Singh.
These cases concern the question of whether an immigration court should enter a in absentia removal order and deny a defendant’s request to vacate that order in the event the government serves an initial notice document that does not include the time and place (as required by Pereira v. Sessions, 138 S.Ct. 2105 (2018) and Niz-Chavez v. Garland 141 S.Ct. 1474 (2021)), but follows a supplementary document containing this information. In these cases, has the government complied with its notice requirement, such that a motion to vacate the removal order should not be granted?
During the pleadingJustice Sotomayor said the Supreme Court had already ruled in the case Niz-Chávez that notices must be “full and complete.” The government attorney tried to distinguish this case from Pereira And Niz-Chávez stating that these two distinct forms of notice are valid for the purpose of ordering the expulsion of a non-citizen in absentia. Justice Gorsuch found the government’s argument insufficient, noting that the government maintains that it is acceptable to leave out information it finds “inconvenient, such as the date of the hearing” and adopt a “trust us” approach to the law (see transcript pages 18 and 19). ). Another interesting aspect of this oral argument was that more than one judge raised the issue of non-citizens not being properly informed of their right to counsel. The justices considered the possibility that the government could abdicate its responsibility by providing this notice with a “trust us” approach with this information as well.
AILA continues to follow this matter closely. The EOIR Liaison Committee raised the issue as recently as its fall 2023 liaison meeting with headquarters. The committee highlighted problems with late notices of hearings and scheduling orders that do not reach practitioners in time and result in removal orders. Although different from in absentia Removal orders and irregular notice issues permeate multiple aspects of the immigration system. We expect a decision from the Court this spring and will disseminate information to AILA members as soon as possible.
We see time and time again that people do their best to present themselves court hearings. In absentia removal orders have lasting consequences on people’s ability to seek relief in the future. It is difficult enough to comply with the various requirements, but when the notices from the government itself do not contain all the information necessary to enable an immigrant to comply, or when they are not informed that they is entitled to a lawyer, well, the deck is clearly stacked against them.