Guatemalan Fighting Deportation to Get High Court Audience

Guatemalans deported from the U.S. wave last month from a bus after arriving at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Two years after it scorched U.S. immigration authorities for initiating deportations with barebones notices, the Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a follow-up letter is enough to correct a defective notice.

The case stems from the government’s attempt to deport Agosto Niz-Chavez, a Guatemalan who says he will be kidnapped or killed if sent to his native country.

Niz-Chavez had been living in the United States for eight years when he received a notice to appear before an immigration judge in Detroit. The letter he received in March 2013 specified that the time and date of this appearance would be scheduled at a later date, and that time came two months later when Niz-Chavez received a new notice that set June 25 the date of his deportation hearing.

After failing to cancel his removal on the basis of torture, Niz-Chavez failed to secure reversals from either the Board of Immigration Appeals or the Sixth Circuit.

Represented by the Boston firm Goodwin Procter, Niz-Chavez now claims in a petition for certiorari that the government irredeemably botched his deportation by sending the barebones notice in March 2013.

The Supreme Court cracked down on such notices with the 2018 ruling Pereira v. Sessions, and Niz-Chavez says the May follow-up letter he received cannot support his deportation either since did not since Congress has not adopted any rules for curing a defective initial notice.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, certain qualifying immigrants can apply for withholding of removal if meet they have been “physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 10 years.”

Though a notice of removal stops this 10-year clock, Niz-Chavez says the notices he received failed to meet Pereira’s requirements.

David Zimmer, an attorney said for Niz-Chavez with the firm Goodwin Procter, said they are happy the case is moving forward.

“We hope the court will reverse the Sixth Circuit and hold that Mr. Niz-Chavez is eligible to apply for cancellation of removal and seek to remain in this country with his U.S.-citizen children,” Zimmer said.

A representative from the Solicitor General’s office did not return a request for comment.

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