On Monday, January 8, the Supreme Court heard consolidated oral arguments for Campos-Chavez v. Garland and Garland v. Singh.

The two cases deal with the issue of whether an immigration court must enter an in absentia removal order and deny a respondent’s request to rescind that order in a case where the government serves an initial notice document in deportation proceedings that fails to include a 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 up with an additional document that contains this information. The question, in these cases, has the government fulfilled its notice requirement such that a motion to rescind the removal order should not be granted?

During the oral argument, Justice Sotomayor expressed that the Supreme Court has previously held in Niz-Chavez that the notices need to be “full and complete.” The government’s attorney attempted to distinguish this case from Pereira and Niz-Chavez by stating that these two separate forms of notice are valid for the purposes of ordering a noncitizen removed in absentia. Justice Gorsuch found the government’s argument tenuous, noting that the government is arguing that it is proper to leave off information it finds “inconvenient, like the hearing date” and taking a “trust us” approach with the law. An interesting aspect of this oral argument was that more than one justice brought up the issue of noncitizens not being properly informed that they have the right obtain counsel. Justices entertained the possibility that the government may forego its responsibility in providing this notice with a “trust us” approach with this information, too.

In absentia removal orders have lasting consequences for people’s ability to apply for immigration relief in the future. Deportation proceedings are complex and individuals must follow the various requirements, but when the notices from the government itself don’t contain all of the information necessary to allow an immigrant to comply, or they are not informed that they have a right to counsel, the complexities of the process grow.

The Immigration Law Center at BBC will continue to follow this case and it is expected that a decision from the Court this spring. The Immigration Law Center at BCC is here to offer guidance, support, and legal representation to individuals and families in deportation proceedings.

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