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USSC on 1326(d): US v. Palomar-Santiago

May 24, 2021 (1 min read)

US v. Palomar-Santiago

"In 1998, respondent Refugio Palomar-Santiago was removed from the United States based on a conviction for felony driving under the influence (DUI). He later returned to the United States and was indicted on one count of unlawful reentry in violation of 8 U. S. C. §1326(a). Between Palomar-Santiago’s removal and indictment, this Court held that offenses like his DUI conviction do not in fact render noncitizens removable. Palomar-Santiago now seeks to defend against his unlawful-reentry charge by challenging the validity of his 1998 removal order. By statute, defendants “may not” bring such collateral attacks “unless” they “demonstrat[e]” that (1) they “exhausted any administrative remedies that may have been available to seek relief against the [removal] order,” (2) the removal proceedings “improperly deprived [them] of the opportunity for judicial review,” and (3) “entry of the order was fundamentally unfair.” §1326(d). The question for the Court is whether Palomar-Santiago is excused from making the first two of these showings, as the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held, because his prior removal order was premised on a conviction that was later found not to be a removable offense. The Court holds that the statute does not permit such an exception. ... The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."