Correct the Record, Rights Groups Say After DoJ Admits Mistake

Correct the Record, Rights Groups Say After DoJ Admits Mistake

"Immigrant rights groups asked the Supreme Court Friday to withdraw parts of a 2009 ruling that relied on erroneous information supplied by the Justice Department, saying that lower courts would continue to be misled unless the official record was corrected.  As reported in The Wall Street Journal, last week the solicitor general’s office told the court that in a January 2009 brief, it mistakenly stated that it routinely “facilitates” the return to the U.S. of deported immigrants who later win their appeals. Chief Justice John Roberts cited that claim in his majority opinion in Nken v. Holder, finding that while deportation is a “serious burden for many aliens,” it wasn’t “categorically irreparable” and therefore was permissible in most circumstances while appeals are pending. The Justice Department said, however, that the government had revised its policies to match its claims in 2009 and therefore no further action from the high court was necessary.  “We appreciate the sentiment in the government’s letter, which retracts its prior submission that it had a policy and practice of facilitating the return of aliens who are removed from the United States while their cases are pending but who eventually successfully challenge their removal,” wrote attorneys for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice, Catholic Legal Services, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the National Immigration law Center, Public Counsel, and World Relief.  “Unfortunately, this belated admission…does not by itself solve the problems created by the government’s erroneous earlier claim,” the groups wrote. “Unless this Court modifies its opinion, other courts may well rely on the relevant passage in Nken. Courts, lawyers, and litigants who review the Court’s reported decision in the case may well not know the government subsequently retreated from its position in a separate filing three years after the decision was issued.”  The Justice Department had no comment on the matter Friday." - Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2012.