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Supreme Court: NTA Must Be a Single Document to Trigger Stop-Time Rule

April 29, 2021 (1 min read)

Niz-Chavez v. Garland (6-3)

"Some circuits have accepted the government’s notice-by-installment theory.  Others, however, have held that the government must issue a single and comprehensive notice before it can trigger the stop-time rule.  We agreed to hear this case, Niz-Chavez v. Barr, 789 Fed. Appx. 523 (CA6 2019), to resolve the conflict, 590 U. S. ___ (2020). ... Our only job today is to give the law’s terms their ordinary meaning and, in that small way, ensure the federal government does not exceed its statutory license.  Interpreting the phrase “a notice to appear” to require a single notice—rather than 2 or 20 documents—does just that.  At one level, today’s dispute may seem semantic, focused on a single word, a small one at that.  But words are how the law constrains power.  In this case, the law’s terms ensure that, when the federal government seeks a procedural advantage against an individual, it will at least supply him with a single and reasonably comprehensive statement of the nature of the proceedings against him.  If men must turn square corners when they deal with the government, it cannot be too much to expect the government to turn square corners when it deals with them.  The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is Reversed."