The United States Supreme Court has agreed to review the decision to deport a Brazilian immigrant who has taken residence in the country for over 18 years.
As provided by the Immigration and Nationality Act, a nonpermanent resident alien who has stayed in the United States for at least 10 years can use their continuous physical presence in the country to have their deportation canceled. This provision would have enabled Wescley Fonseca Pereira, a Brazilian national who first entered the country in 2000 with a nonimmigrant visa, to prevent his removal from the country.
Pereira, however, received a notice to appear before the Department of Homeland Security in May 2006.
The courts used this specific circumstance in justifying their decision to have him deported, claiming that Pereira could no longer rely on his continuous physical presence in the country to protect himself from removal because of the notice.
This justification depends on the “stop-time” rule, which is activated the moment the person in question receives the notice and marks the moment the law should stop counting in calculating for the number of years an alien has been in the country.
Pereira argued an exception to the rule, pointing out that the notice he received made no mention of a determined time and date for his initial removal hearing. He states that while the notice called him to appear in Boston for a hearing, it was not specific as to when he would be required to appear, thus his technicality argument.
The court eventually settled on a time and date for Pereira’s hearing more than a year after the initial notice, but the follow-up notice with the necessary details was sent to his street address on Martha’s Vineyard instead of his post office box.
Consequently, Pereira did not receive the notice, which caused him to fail to appear at his October 31, 2007 removal hearing, which in turn, led to him being ordered removed in absentia. He was eventually arrested in 2013 for a traffic violation, at this point a husband and father to two daughters.
Pereira argued to an immigration judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the First Circuit that the 2006 notice’s failure to include a specific time and date for his removal hearing should result in its inability to trigger the stop-time rule. The courts would nonetheless rule against him, prompting him to take his case to the High Court.
The justices have, as is custom, remained silent on its decision to grant Pereira’s case certiorari.
If you, or a loved one, are facing a similar immigration case, you can discuss your legal options with the immigration law experts of the Lyttle Law Firm. Find out how we can help you by calling our offices today at (512) 215.5225 and scheduling a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.