Having a final order of removal normally ends any hope for an immigration case. Very few people with a removal order ever receive permanent resident status or any kind of visa. Still, it is very common for an Immigration Judge to issue a removal order to an immigrant who then never leaves the United States. Instead, the immigrant continues to work and otherwise lives a quiet life without proper immigration status. Technically, a removal order is like an arrest warrant, but in most cases it is highly unlikely that the government arrests the immigrant on that warrant.
A removal order becomes final 30 days after the Immigration Judge issues it if the immigrant does not appeal. Challenging a final removal order is very difficult. Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court just gave hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of immigrants with final removal orders a new chance to win status. The case of Pereira v. Sessions decides that the form that the government uses to call an immigrant into to removal proceedings is invalid in about 99% of cases from the last 20 years.
In the two months after the June 21 ruling, Immigration Judges terminated removal proceedings in 9,000 cases. More removal proceedings were terminated in August that any other month ever in the history of the Immigration Courts. These numbers make the present time one of the most exciting ever for the one million people currently in removal proceedings.
But, it is truly those immigrants who already have final orders of removal who are having an enormous moment. These final orders can only be undone in most cases by attacking the way the government gave the immigrant “notice” of the hearing. Now, because of the Pereira case, the “notice” requirement in almost all of these cases is inadequate, giving almost everyone with a final order a chance to reopen their case.
Attorney Jeffrey B. Rubin with Wescley Pereira and his family