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Supreme Court Case Ruling Against Immigrant Who Accidentally Claimed to be a U.S. Citizen- Patel

Patel v. Garland

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that immigration law does not permit judicial review of even erroneous findings of fact that lead to denial of an immigration benefit.

The case involved a Georgia man, Patel, who entered the U.S. without a visa and has lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years facing deportation for mistakenly checking a box indicating that he was a U.S. citizen when renewing his Georgia Driver’s License. Patel has a wife, a U.S. citizen child, and two children with a green card.

Patel had a pending green card application and a valid employment authorization document, when he mistakenly checked the box indicating that he was a U.S. citizen, while renewing his driver’s license. USCIS denied Patel’s green card application because of the misrepresentation regarding U.S. citizenship on his driver’s license application. Patel argued before an immigration judge during removal proceedings that he had checked the wrong box by accident. He lost his case before the immigration judge in a decision that was upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals that said he had not shown that his decision to check the box was truly an innocent mistake.

The most unfortunate part about this decision is that under Georgia law, noncitizens are eligible to receive a license with a pending application seeking lawful permanent residence and a valid employment authorization document, therefore Patel had no need to misrepresent that he was a U.S. citizen in order to renew his license.

Four things the general public should take away from this Supreme Court decision is:

1. False claims to U.S. citizenship, even ones made by mistake, can lead to deportation. Be very careful when filling out government forms, this includes immigration applications and all other applications requesting government benefits such as a driver’s license or loan.

2. Having a child with U.S. citizenship does not safeguard against deportation. It is a common misconception that if a person has a U.S. citizen child, then they are guaranteed the ability to remain in the U.S. A U.S. citizen child may only sponsor their parent when he/she turns at least 21 years of age, but even then, the parent must still be found eligible for the green card. In other words, just because you have a sponsor doesn’t mean that you are eligible to receive a green card. You must understand immigration laws and how they apply to your particular situation to determine eligibility.

3. The courts have very limited ability to intervene with immigration decisions made by the Department of Homeland Security. There are some situations in which petitioning a federal judge is the best and most efficient way to achieve your immigration goals like for example, when USCIS fails to adjudicate your case within a reasonable timeframe. Those situations, however, are limited. For situations in which federal litigation is not possible, it may be best to reopen or appeal your case within the agency, or refile altogether. The best course of action is determined once you’ve had the ability to speak with an immigration attorney about your situation and he or she can assess all of the facts.

4. Obtaining an immigration benefit depends upon much more than whether you can fill out an immigration application accurately. You must also understand whether you are eligible for the benefit you are seeking and how your past and present actions may affect your eligibility. Only an immigration attorney can advise you of the legal consequences of your actions and help you to devise a strategy to achieve the best chances of success.

The Law Office of S.A. Peterkin is a premier immigration law firm providing services to immigrants in need of green cards, work authorization, deportation defense, and lawful immigration status through humanitarian relief.

To contact us call 321-325-1125 or leave us a message on our website

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