WASHINGTON (CN) – A Jamaican immigrant who faces deportation for several felony convictions persuaded the Supreme Court on Monday to hold arguments on his case.
Andre Martello Barton arrived in the United States in May 1989 on a tourist visa and became a lawful permanent resident three years later.
In the intervening years, however, Barton racked up a series of convictions ranging from aggravated assault and gun possession to, more recently, violations of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.
The United States contended that these several of Barton’s convictions constitute crimes involving moral turpitude — grounds for deportation — but Barton is fighting to cancel his removable on the basis of his status as a lawful permanent resident.
Such relief hinges on whether Barton can establish that he resided in the United States continuously for seven years after his first admission.
Because Barton committed his first U.S. crimes conviction in January 1996, however, the United States says he triggered what is known as the “stop-time rule,” stopped the clock on his continuous residence just a few months shy of the seven-year threshold.
Barton appealed to the 11th Circuit after both an immigration judge and Board of Immigration Appeals ruled against him.
While the Ninth Circuit has said the stop-time rule is not triggered unless an immigrant is seeking admission, the Atlanta-based court diverged in September 2018, citing “linguistics and logic.” In the court’s view, no part of the law’s text requires an alien to be seeking admission to be rendered inadmissible.
The Supreme Court did not issue any comment in granting Barton a writ of certiorari on Monday.
Barton’s attorney, Adam Unikowsky with Jenner Block, has not returned an email seeking comment. The Justice Department likewise did not respond to a request for comment.