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Supreme Court (5-4) on Defective NTA: Campos-Chavez v. Garland

June 14, 2024 (3 min read)

Campos-Chavez v. Garland

No. 22–674, 54 F. 4th 314, affirmed; No. 22–884, 24 F. 4th 1315, reversed (Mendez- Colín) and vacated and remanded (Singh).

ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. JACKSON, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined.

Majority: "We hold that, to rescind an in absentia removal order on the ground that the alien “did not receive notice in accordance with paragraph (1) or (2),” the alien must show that he did not receive notice under either paragraph for the hearing at which the alien was absent and ordered removed. Because each of the aliens in these cases received a proper paragraph (2) notice for the hearings they missed and at which they were ordered removed, they cannot seek rescission of their in absentia removal orders on the basis of defective notice under §1229a(b)(5)(C)(ii). ... We affirm the judgment of the Fifth Circuit and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s judgment in Garland v. Mendez-Colín. We vacate the Ninth Circuit’s judgment in Garland v. Singh, and remand that case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

Dissent: "Today’s cases arise because the Government persisted with its practice of issuing facially defective NTAs in the wake of our two prior pronouncements. But, apparently, the third time is the charm, for the majority now finally blesses the Government’s abject noncompliance with the statute’s unequivocal command. The Court concludes that a noncitizen whose NTA does not contain the time-and-date information that §1229(a)(1) requires has no recourse from an in absentia removal order if the Government subsequently provides some followup notice identifying the time and date of the proceeding he missed. Ante, at 2. But that holding defies the plain text and context of the statute, sidesteps our precedents, and upends the careful in absentia removal framework Congress has crafted. ... Our precedents in Pereira and Niz-Chavez addressed the relevant notice provisions and what they require of the Government, yet the majority barely pauses to acknowledge this. ... Our statements in Pereira and Niz-Chavez demonstrate that the Court twice before thought obvious the reading of the statute the noncitizens here propose. Yet the majority now cries dicta. ... Indeed, and perhaps most concerning, under the majority’s reading of the statutory provisions at issue here, Congress’s goals are plainly thwarted, for a noncitizen may be removed in absentia even if the Government fails to provide him with information that complies in both form and substance with Congress’s commands. The removal scheme’s orderly progression actually breaks down when the Government fails, in systemic fashion, to send statutorily compliant NTAs. And for years, that is exactly what has happened, because the NTAs that the Government routinely issued lacked the time, date, or place of a noncitizen’s initial removal hearing. ... At the very least, it seems wildly counterintuitive for this Court to adopt the Government’s permissive reading of the statute— in contravention of its plain text—so as to help the Government avoid the prescribed consequences of its chronic noncompliance with Congress’s mandates. ... The Government has already flouted its NTA obligation for years now. Though the Court might not be expressly authorizing this state of affairs, today’s blunting of the statutory consequence for the Government’s systemic failure to comply with §1229(a) removes any possible incentive for the Government to change course now. ... Congress put the burden on the Government to send complete NTAs to noncitizens facing removal every time it initiates a removal proceeding. Instead of requiring the Government to shoulder that burden, the majority effectively shifts it onto the noncitizens—individuals perhaps unfamiliar with this country and its laws—tasking them with the responsibility of addressing the Government’s mistakes. That is not the statute Congress wrote. ... The statute it wrote specifically establishes the what, when, and how of the notice that is due to noncitizens facing removal. The statute also allows noncitizens who have been ordered removed in absentia to seek rescission of the removal order if the required notice is not received. I can no more judge that policy decision than I can change it. Today, the Court makes the unfortunate mistake of doing both."