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The Supreme Court can legalize ‘dreamers’… but it has other cases that will affect millions of migrants

The Supreme Court has admitted to processing and is examining in this session four cases that can seriously affect the lives of millions of immigrants.

Kansas v. Garcia (October 16)

Ramiro García, Donaldo Morales and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara were convicted of state-level identity theft in Johnson County, Kansas, allegedly for using false identities. Each appealed their convictions, arguing that the application of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) precedes and prevents their prosecution at the state level. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned all three sentences.

The case of the state of Kansas focuses on the employment verification process. Federal immigration law that requires employers, on a form known as I-9, to certify that an employee is authorized to work. The law also states that the form "cannot be used for purposes other than the application of this law."

Although the federal government has the sole authority to prosecute people for providing fraudulent information during the I-9 employment verification process, the state prosecuted all three men for using the same false information on different job forms. Kansas insists that eliminating prosecution at the state level would undermine the ability to combat identity theft.

At the hearing, the four liberal judges of the Supreme Court (Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Breyer), as well as conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by Trump, asked questions that reflected their concern that the state's insistence on persecuting Unauthorized workers undermine a paper reserved for the federal government, according to Reuters.

Barton v. Barr (November 4)

Jamaican Andre Martello Barton arrived in the United States in 1989 with a tourist visa. In 1992 he obtained permanent resident status, but four years later he was convicted of aggravated assault, property damage and possession of a firearm. To this he joined in 2007 and 2008 other sentences for drug offenses.

In 2016, the Department of Homeland Security tried to deport Barton, and an immigration judge agreed. When Barton requested the cancellation of his expulsion, the Government argued that he was not legally eligible for that privilege because he had breached the requirement of continued residence due to his aggravated assault convictions.

The law states that the attorney general can cancel a deportation case if the foreigner has been "legally admitted to permanent residence for not less than five years"; has "resided" in the country "continuously for seven years after being admitted"; and has not been "convicted of any aggravated felony."

Barton's lawyers allege that his continuous residence time in the country was seven years, so he has the right to have his deportation reconsidered. The Government alleges that his period of continuous residence ended in 1996, when he committed aggravated assaults and firearms crimes.

What is at stake in the Barton case is the detention time rule, which states that the period of continued residence of a foreigner in the United States is considered to be over if he commits a crime that makes him “inadmissible” or deportable.

In the November 4 session, the judges heard the arguments of both parties.

The case is relevant because, if the Supreme Court sided with the Administration, it could facilitate the deportation of permanent residents convicted of serious crimes.

Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, and Trump v. NAACP (November 11)

The Supreme Court magistrates will hear these two cases to decide whether the decision of the Department of Homeland Security to eliminate the condition of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is judicially reviewable, and whether it was legal.

The courts have so far blocked the attempt to terminate the program initiated by former Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012, ruling that Trump's justification is inadequate.

Elaine C. Duke's brief memorandum, then interim secretary of National Security, announcing the end of the program in September 2017, was based on a statement by then attorney general Jeff Sessions that it was illegal.

Duke's decision not to cite his own reasons is a weak point in the Government's position, according to experts quoted Monday by The New York Times.

Duke, a career official who has worked as a volunteer helping immigrants in their spare time, resigned from office in 2018.

The decision of the Supreme Court, which can be delayed until the summer of 2020, will determine the fate of 700,000 young people who arrived in the country illegally when they were children, alone or by their parents. For now, they are still protected from deportation and with a work permit because DACA remains in force for lack of a final sentence.

Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr, and Ovalles v. Barr (December 9)

The Colombian Pedro Pablo Guerrero-Lasprilla entered the United States in 1986 legally, but was expelled in 1998 due to drug convictions.

In September 2016, he filed a motion to reopen his case, alleging that a 2014 decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) made him eligible to seek reentry under the old Immigration and Nationality Law, which entered into force in 1952 .

The immigration judge denied Guerrero's motion to reopen the case, considering that it was not filed on time, given that the ruling in which he seeks to take refuge occurred two years before the requirement. The judge determined that this delay indicated that Guerrero had not diligently pursued his rights, as required by the legal principle known as equitable toll.

The fair toll states that the statute of limitations will not prevent a claim if the plaintiff, despite “reasonable care and diligent efforts,” did not discover the damage until after the period of limitations expired.

The Dominican Rubén Ovalles, meanwhile, emigrated to the United States in 1985. He obtained permanent residence, but was deported in 2004 for a probation for possession of heroin. Since their case is similar to Lasprilla's, the judges will listen to both together. Ovalles asked to reopen the deportation case in 2017.

In taking this case, the Supreme Court will determine whether a legal permanent resident convicted of a crime can appeal a final expulsion order when a court refused judicial review because it found that it lacked jurisdiction for equitable toll purposes.


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