Immigration Law

CA9 on Jurisdiction: J.E. F.M v. Lynch

J.E. F.M. v. Lynch, Sept. 20, 2016- "This interlocutory appeal requires us to answer a single question: does a district court have jurisdiction over a claim that indigent minor immigrants without counsel have a right to government-appointed counsel in removal proceedings? Our answer to this jurisdictional query is no. We underscore that we address only the jurisdictional issue, not the merits of the claims. Congress has clearly provided that all claims — whether statutory or constitutional — that “aris[e] from” immigration removal proceedings can only be brought through the petition for review process in the federal courts of appeals. 8 U.S.C. §§ 1252(a)(5) & (b)(9). Despite the gravity of their claims, the minors cannot bypass the immigration courts and proceed directly to district court. Instead, they must exhaust the administrative process before they can access the federal courts. ...

McKEOWN, Circuit Judge, with whom M. SMITH, Circuit Judge, joins, specially concurring: I cannot let the occasion pass without highlighting the plight of unrepresented children who find themselves in immigration proceedings. While I do not take a position on the merits of the children’s constitutional and statutory claims, I write to underscore that the Executive and Congress have the power to address this crisis without judicial intervention. What is missing here? Money and resolve — political solutions that fall outside the purview of the courts. ... Congress and the Executive should not simply wait for a judicial determination before taking up the “policy reasons and . . . moral obligation” to respond to the dilemma of the thousands of children left to serve as their own advocates in the immigration courts in the meantime. The stakes are too high. To give meaning to “Equal Justice Under Law,” the tag line engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court building, to ensure the fair and effective administration of our immigration system, and to protect the interests of children who must struggle through that system, the problem demands action now."