A demand for consistent deportation decisions

A demand for consistent deportation decisions

High court should grant cert in 'Ramirez-Villalpando' to address rulings arbitrarily turning on where court is located. Brett A. Shumate, Jan. 2, 2012.

"Now pending at the Court is Ramirez-Villalpando v. Holder. The case involves the deportation of an individual lawfully admitted to the United States in 1961 at the age of five as a lawful permanent resident. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit determined, based on its review of an abstract of judgment, that Juan Ramirez-Villalpando should be deported because a prior conviction qualified as an aggravated felony. The Court has been asked to answer a question on which five courts of appeals are now conflicted: whether an abstract of judgment qualifies as a conclusive record that may be relied upon to determine whether a prior conviction qualifies as an aggravated felony. The 3d and 5th circuits have held that abstracts of judgment may not be consulted to prove the nature of a prior conviction. The 9th Circuit, joined by the 8th and 11th circuits, have held that abstracts may be consulted. The issue is of huge importance, given that three of the conflicting decisions stem from circuit courts that cover the nation's border with Mexico and hear 80 percent of the country's immigration cases.  Ramirez-Villalpando is a long-standing resident of the United States facing the possibility of deportation based on a mere fortuity unconnected to the immigration laws. Deportation arbitrarily turns on where the deportation charges were brought. As a result of the circuit conflict, the same individual could be removable in California but not in Texas — his fate depends on the jurisdiction in which his removability is evaluated. Given the importance of the uniform application of the immigration laws, the Court has an obligation to ensure that inconsistencies within the judicial system are addressed. The similarities between Judulang and Ramirez-Villalpando should influence the Court as it decides whether to grant certiorari."

Brett A. Shumate is an associate in the appellate practice at Wiley Rein in Wash­ing­ton. He represents Juan Ramirez-Villalpando.