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June 22, 2006
SCOTUS Limits Illegal Immigrant Access To Courts

The Supreme Court denied the appeal of an illegal immigrant who wanted to appeal a deportation ruling on the basis of an ex post facto argument. By a vote of 8-1, the justices ruled that illegal immigrants have no basis to appeal their status based on changing immigration law:

The Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a blow to longtime illegal residents, ruling that a deported Mexican man who lived in the United States for 20 years is barred from seeking legal residency or other relief in the courts.

By an 8-1 vote, justices said that Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, who was deported several times from the 1970s to 1981, is subject to a 1996 law Congress passed to streamline the legal process for expelling aliens who have been deported at least once before and returned.

Vargas applied for resident alien status after getting married in 2001 to an American citizen after a longterm relationship, including the birth of a child. However, having already been deported several times and re-entering the US illegally again, the INS deported him again in 2004 on the basis of the 1996 law. Vargas argued that since he had re-entered the US prior to the 1996 law upon which his first appeal was denied, the Constitutional prohibition on ex post facto application of laws made the deportation illegal.

SCOTUS should be congratulated for its clear-headed ruling. Had the justices ruled in the opposite, it could have created a situation where illegal immigrants receive de facto amnesty with every revision of the immigration statutes. The change in the law did not change the fact that Vargas entered the US illegally, and that his presence remained illegal. The government needs to have the power to deport illegal entrants, especially those who repeatedly break our immigration laws.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 22, 2006 9:54 AM

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Tracked on June 26, 2006 2:11 PM


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