Featured News 2018 Judalang v. Holder: Resident Aliens Beware!

Judalang v. Holder: Resident Aliens Beware!

Immigration laws exist for the same reasons as all other U.S. laws do: to regulate the conduct of a body of people (in this case, the nation's entire population), and to ensure that customary procedures are abided. The rules are enforced by a federal authority—the immigration system, comprised of hundreds of immigration judges, Border Patrol officers, and Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as smaller ruling bodies and agencies.

In 2011, the Supreme Court case Judalang v. Holder created quite the stir among governing officials, undocumented aliens and naturalized citizens alike. The legal aspects of the case primarily concern the policies predicated by the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA).

The BIA is the governing authority for immigration issues. When a resident alien wishes to escape deportation under the stipulations of an immigration law that has since been repealed, they must do so by applying to the Attorney General. The time in which it is legally acceptable to apply to the Attorney General is regulated by the Board of Immigration Appeals'.

However, the governing rules of the BIA do not always hold true to the same governing laws of the nation. Such is the case in Judalang v. Holder – a Board of Immigration Appeals' legal proceeding that has been determined "arbitrary and capricious"; in other words, a failure on the part of the BIA.

J. Judalang's Story

Philippines native J. Judalang entered the U.S. in 1974 as a young child and lived as a legal permanent resident ever since. In 1988, he was involved with a fight that involved the shooting and killing of another person. Charged as an accessory, Judalang pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and received a suspended sentence of six years. He was then immediately granted release on probation.

In 2005, Judalang again pled guilty to another criminal offense—theft. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security moved to deport the 35-year resident based on charges of "aggravated felony" and a "crime of violence" from his previous offense more than two decades ago. The deportation was ordered by the immigration judge and affirmed by the BIA. In addition, the BIA held that Judalang would not be permitted to apply for relief from deportation due to his arrest in 1988. According to the Board, a crime of violence does not apply to any exclusionary grounds that could be used to keep Judalang in the states.

Here's the Problem with the Ruling

The primary concern regarding the BIA's ruling revolves around the presumption that "arbitrary and capricious" methods were applied to the petitioner's plead for application of §212(c) in deportation. According to the Administrative Procedure Act, which was accessed for review with regard to the Judalang ruling, it was determined that the BIA had arbitrarily made a ruling decision without making reasonable allowances for all the material (i.e. relevant) facts of the situation. It denied an alien's eligibility for relief from deportation based on irrelevant statutory categories.

The Board of Immigration Appeals' linked statutory categories together to deny eligibility to a man based on categories that should not have been utilized in the first place. In short, it failed to make a reasonable ruling.

The BIA Reveals a Larger Problem Within Our Immigration System

What began as a typical immigration/deportation issue has spotlighted a nationally-recognized problem with immigration policy. If we cannot rely on the governing boards of our nation to practice sound, reasonable, and fair decision-making processes, then just who or what can we trust? In the case of Judalang v. Holder, the same laws that apply to resident aliens are also meant to apply to immigrants seeking entry into the country. This is referred to as the "comparable grounds" approach.

However, no such reasoning seemed to be in order at the time that Judalang's deportation was approved. Rather, it appears that a lack of sound reasoning and justifiable cause led to the resident alien's final ruling for deportation. In essence, there seems to be a sense of irrationality governing over the issues of immigration—issues of high importance to the lives of millions of individuals across the nation.

Too often, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled for deportation or denial to appeal to the Attorney General for relief when it had no grounds for doing so. The case of Judalang v. Holder was one of the hot contests of its moment, but it's still relevant today. At the very least, it begged questions like, "How many people were not justly treated before the BIA?" or "How many more are going to be deported without reason?" The immigration court system is one that should be used to protect our migrant neighbors, including legal resident aliens. Unfortunately, it seems that it is becoming a crude tool for deportation used on people who rightly deserve to remain in the country. In fact, new reports reflect statistics showing that unfairness abounds when it comes to deportation matters in the U.S. Immigrants are not only put up against an unfair justice system; they are also made to do so with incompetent legal representation or sometimes, none at all.

Until these matters are recognized and addressed, they will continue to worsen. Without reform, there is no telling how many deportation approvals and immigration denials will result. This is a problem that needs to be rectified, and it must begin with rulings like Judalang v. Holder.

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