In its first immigration case of the year, the Supreme Court overturned the deportation of Juan Esquivel-Quintana. The unanimous decision was written by Justice Clarence Thomas. This was an Obama-era deportation, but the Supreme Court’s unanimous willingness to set limits on immigration enforcement may be a hopeful sign for decisions on Trump-era immigration cases.
Juan Esquivel-Quintana was a 20-year-old immigrant, a permanent legal resident of the United States, living in California, when he had consensual sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. California law makes it a crime to have sex with someone under 18 if you are more than three years older. Esquivel-Quintana served 90 days in jail after pleading no contest to the charge of having sex with a minor.
You might think that was the end of the story, especially since under the laws of 43 states, Esquivel-Quintana’s relationship with his girlfriend would not be a crime. But because Esquivel-Quintana was not a U.S. citizen, the U.S. government decided to consider his crime as “sexual abuse of a minor,” which is classified as an aggravated felony. An aggravated felony makes even a legal resident both deportable and ineligible for most exceptions to deportation. So the government took away his legal permanent resident visa and deported him. Now, with the Supreme Court ruling in his favor, he can return.
“Although not breaking new ground today, the court continues to move forward in applying ordinary analytical approaches to immigration law, which historically had been in certain respects “exceptional” in the amount of deference given to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Immigrants have prevailed more often than not in the court’s recent decisions as the U.S. government has pressed cases, like Esquivel-Quintana, which the court found to be unsupported by the immigration statute.”
- Opinion analysis: Justices continue to apply ordinary modes of statutory interpretation to the U.S. immigration laws (SCOTUSblog, 5/30/17)
- He had sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend and was almost deported. Now he can stay (McClatchy, 5/30/17)
- Justices side with Mexican immigrant in deportation case (Washington Post, 5/30/17)
And in other news
Trump’s budget contains a warning shot for sanctuary cities (The New Yorker, 5/28/17) Although it’s “more of a wish list than a policy blueprint,” the Trump budget includes lots of new money for immigration enforcement and a provision requiring cities to hold people on immigration “detainers,” though these have been ruled unconstitutional warrantless detention by federal district courts. In the fairly unlikely event that the provision is adopted, it would authorize withholding of federal funding to “sanctuary” cities — a step threatened but currently without any legal basis.
Sheriffs are enthusiastic about enforcing U.S. immigration law. That makes a big difference. (Washington Post, 5/30/17) Milwaukee County (WI) Sheriff David Clarke, who is now moving to a position in DHS, and Maricopa County (AZ) former sheriff Joe Arpaio are two prominent examples of sheriffs who have taken anti-immigrant positions. The Post’s national survey of 500 sheriffs found that sheriffs are more likely than other local officials to support strict enforcement of immigration laws. About one in four “reported that their officers check the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses or those stopped for traffic violations.”
“Sheriffs are interesting because unlike most police chiefs, they are elected officials with a lot of independence and power — and a lot of responsibilities for making and carrying out policy. Studying sheriffs lets us look at how attitudes shape policies among elected officials….
“We found that 85 percent of sheriffs agree that there should be more federal spending on tightening border security and preventing illegal immigration. And 70 percent of sheriffs thought that law enforcement should be allowed to ask about individuals’ citizenship status during routine patrols.”
DA hotline tips drop after immigration busts on Long Island (Fox5News, 5/30/17)
“The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs hotline used to get several calls a week but that has changed.
“Last year we had over 50 calls. This year we had two,” Nassau County DA Madeline Singas said. “So it’s a drastic reduction in the amount of people who are reaching out.”
Not in my backyard: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti (LatinoUSA, 5/26/17) Audio interview with Mayor Garcetti –
“In 2014, it was estimated that Los Angeles and Orange Counties combined made up one million of the around 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. And, being the grandson of immigrants, Garcetti understands what’s at stake for the undocumented immigrants in his jurisdiction.”
‘You’re just there, trapped’: Why one Mexican woman decided to ‘self-deport,’ long before Trump (Los Angeles Times, 5/29/17) Paula Flores Colorado returned to Mexico in 2009, after living in the United States since the age of 12. She found the increasing fear and anxiety too much to bear. Now she and her husband and 5-year-old son live comfortably in Mexico, where she works for an American company. She hopes to return some day.
“A sister, meanwhile, still lives in California with her husband of 18 years and their two daughters. She is still without papers.
“As the Trump administration cracks down on illegal immigration, the sister finds herself paralyzed by the same angst that drove Flores to self-deport. She’s prepared an emergency bag for her family — with her daughters’ U.S. birth certificates and other important papers — in case she gets deported.
“But she has no plans to leave voluntarily.”
Texas state Republican: I’d ‘shoot’ Dem colleague ‘in self defense’ (The Hill, 5/29/17)
“Texas state Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) said Monday he would “shoot” a Democratic colleague “in self defense” after he said Rep. Alfonso Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pas) threatened him. …
“Romero responded at a press conference and in a tweet, saying, “Claims of assault are completely baseless.”
Western Minnesota town’s residents seek to help fearful immigrants (Duluth News Tribune, 5/29/17) Some Montevideo residents plan to team up with the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network to make the community more immigrant-friendly.
“[Mariano Espinoza of the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network] said the organization is encouraging local governments to create immigration and refugee advisory committees to provide input to local decision makers. The network is also urging municipalities to create their own identification systems for residents, as well as pass ordinances stating that local police will not work to enforce immigration law.”