By Jayesh Rathod | SCOTUSblog
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a 6-3 opinion in Niz-Chavez v. Garland, reversing a lower court’s decision that had limited access to “cancellation of removal,” an important form of relief for noncitizens in deportation proceedings.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, adopting a rigid interpretation of a federal statute that requires the government to serve a “notice to appear” in order to trigger the “stop-time” rule. That rule can foreclose access to immigration relief by preventing noncitizens from accruing the time required for eligibility. According to the majority, in order to trigger the stop-time rule, the government must issue a single immigration charging document with various pieces of required information, including the date and time of the hearing. The majority rejected the government’s contention that a series of documents could together comprise the required notice, noting that the plain language of the law, as well as its structure and history, indicate a single document is required.
“In an unusual voting lineup, the Supreme Court’s three liberal justices joined Justice Gorsuch, Thomas, and Barrett to hold that the government must serve an immigrant with a completed Notice to Appear in order to trigger the “stop-time rule,” which can limit an immigrant’s access to relief from removal proceedings.’
“Don’t confuse Judge Gorsuch with a liberal judge or an immigrant advocate, but rather a critic of bureaucracy, as he wrote in his opinion: “If the government finds filling out forms a chore, it has good company.”
–Darius Amiri, Rose Law Group Immigration Law Dept. Chair