Pereira v. Sessions: A Jurisdictional Surprise for Immigration Courts

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Kit Johnson is an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a bombshell opinion regarding immigration court procedure on June 21, 2018: Pereira v. Sessions. On its face, the case is a boon for certain noncitizens seeking relief from deportation. Yet, as this Essay explains, Pereira’s implications are far greater. Although the Court’s opinion never mentions jurisdiction, Pereira necessarily means that immigration courts lack jurisdiction over virtually every case filed in the last three years, plus an unknown number of earlier-filed cases. This situation arises from the chronic failure of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to comply with the law in commencing deportation proceedings. With the clarity afforded by Pereira, the result is that these pending removal cases should be dismissed.

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