Why should you care about Patel?
In Patel, the United States Supreme court ruled that Federal courts cannot review lower courts, including immigration court decisions, based on a factual basis.
This means fewer options for immigrants who want to appeal their cases to a higher federal court. Thus, less opportunity for relief. This often ends in the removal of an immigrant who may have a legitimate argument to be granted relief.
It’s long been a hard and fast rule that Federal courts only review lower court decisions on the law or constitutional basis, not on a question of fact.
However, some appellate courts have focused on the word “judgement” to include cases where the court would now consider factual issues. The US supreme court ruled in Patel to stop this practice.
Justice Gorsuch wrote the dissenting opinion in this case, citing the precedence that had been made by many courts in which they would review lower court decisions that had judgments that were egregiously wrong on the facts. Gorsuch laments that the Patel decision will leave countless future immigrants with obviously poor rulings without any recourse at all.
Justice Gorsuch also cites the grievance of the dissenting justices that “bureaucratic missteps” have no checks and balances if their mistakes, even factual mistakes, are unreviewable by a higher court. Thus, government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and it’s underlying the United States Citizenship and immigration services (USCIS) can run roughshod over immigrants and Americans interested in the matter.
Yes, we should care about Patel. It impacts many immigrants that will likely not get a fair shake in our legal system. This issue goes beyond politics as two Trump appointees, Justice Barrett and Gorsuch, are on opposite sides of this argument. It seems that the government will be allowed to “get away” with grossly erroneously decided cases on a legal technicality. That’s too bad for many immigrants and for our country as a whole.
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