‘Renders Impermissible’: Phrase Drawing Huge Debate in Supreme Court Immigration Case

by Admin on November 7, 2019

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A raging debate is currently taking place in the US Supreme Court over what is a seemingly innocuous phrase–“renders impermissible”.

The phrase rose to prominence in a current immigration case being adjudicated on by the high court.

The eventual ruling of the case will play a large role in protections for lawful permanent residents and green card holders as well as overall US immigration law.

The case involves a man named Andre Martello Barton.

Barton immigrated to the US at age 11 with his mother, eventually becoming a lawful permanent resident in 1992 when he was a teenager.

When Barton was 18, he was convicted of felony criminal charges before being convicted again in 2007 and 2008 for drug-related offenses.

Three years ago, the Department of Homeland Security began proceedings to remove Barton’s lawful permanent resident status, aka deport him.

But green card holders such as Barton have certain protections, one being that he can apply for a “cancelation of removal”, which would block the federal government from taking away his lawful permanent residency.

Non-citizens like Barton are entitled to that right if they’ve lived in the US for at least five years as a lawful permanent resident, have resided in the US under any status for 7 consecutive years, and have not been convicted of an aggravated felony.

There is a statue, though, that can stop the clock on the seven-year continual residency requirement.

The stipulation states that the residence time can be paused for those that have committed offenses that “renders” them “impermissible”.

Barton’s first criminal conviction came just months before he had spent seven continual years as a resident in the US, which the government has argued to the Supreme Court stopped his residence time just shy of the seven-year requirement.

Barton’s lawyers argue, on the other hand, that his first offense didn’t render him impermissible because no immigration judge ruled him as such.

In their argument, how could someone who has already been “admitted” to the US and is not currently seeking “admissability” be rendered inadmissible?

Justice Stephen Breyer also noted the illogical stance of the government.

“He’s been admitted. How could he be inadmissible?” Breyer said. “They admitted him. Ahh, you mean he would have been inadmissible had he not been admitted.”

Justice Samuel Alito bit back with his own linguistic attack, however:

Can I take you back to Justice Breyer’s intriguing question about the meaning of inadmissibility? The Eleventh Circuit had some very colorful examples about status and words that end in “a-b-l-e” or “i-b-l-e,” and one of them had to do with rotten fish.

So if a fish rots and it is inedible, they say, well, it was inedible before the person ate it. But under Justice Breyer’s interpretation of admissibility, suppose this person eats the fish and then goes to the emergency room to have his stomach pumped, would the doctor say, well, the fish wasn’t actually inedible because he ate it?”

Read the full story here.

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