A recent Supreme Court decision ruled against Pankajkumar S. Patel, who checked the wrong box on a driver’s license application and now faces deportation.
The court ruling makes it more difficult for non-citizens to get a federal court to review decisions by an immigration court regarding factual disputes.
Patel came to the U.S. from India in 1992, and years later applied for a green card. While he was waiting for a decision on his green card application, he mistakenly checked a box on a driver’s license renewal application saying he was a U.S. citizen. Now, after building a life in the U.S., he and his family are facing deportation. Patel was also charged with making a false statement, but that charge was dropped.
In immigration court, Patel argued that he checked the box by accident. He also argued that, under Georgia law, he was entitled to a driver’s license even though he was not a citizen anyway, so there was no reason to lie. Patel ultimately lost his case.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the decision, interpreting the law in a stricter way than even the federal government. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the dissent, and was sided by the Court’s three liberal justices.
“With so many applications receiving such abbreviated treatment, who can be surprised that DHS sometimes makes serious errors, (…) Until today, courts could correct mistakes like these,” wrote Gorsuch, in his dissent.