What happens when a judge dismisses the criminal case that triggered a deportation case? Although not a new question, the answer can change as the rules that surround the issue are often evolving. In the past, the judge could potentially set the removal case aside. But changes put in motion by former President Donald Trump’s administration made it unclear if judges could still set these cases aside. In a recent example, a young man had to take his case all the way up to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to find some clarity.
What happened in this case?
In this situation, the young man was able to build a defense and have a judge dismiss his criminal case. The young man asked the administrative judge who was in charge of his deportation case to close the case. Ultimately, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rejected the young man’s request. He appealed the BIA’s decision and took the case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 3rd Circuit agreed with the young man.
Why would someone get deported if the criminal case was no longer an issue?
Like all things in immigration, the issue is complicated. As noted above, the answer to this question goes back to policy changes made by the previous administration. At that time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote an opinion that essentially removed the power for judges to close cases in these situations. Sessions suggested the move based on the concern that judges were using this power too frequently.
Multiple courts rejected this rule, with many pointing to the fact that whether or not the judges were using the power too often did not change the fact that they have the legal authority to do so. As a result, there is a push for President Joseph Biden’s administration to repeal former Attorney General Sessions’ rule.
What will happen in these types of cases?
In this case, the young man entered the United States when he was seven in 2002. His status was then granted under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). If the judge were to grant administrative closure of the removal case, he could seek renewal under DACA.
Currently, the courts are on his side. If it does not move any further, he should be able to attempt to get status under DACA. If the feds instead chose to further challenge the case, it could head to the Supreme Court. Although this would lead to a further battle for the young man, it could provide additional clarity for other immigrants in similar situations.