Immigration Case May be Decided by the U.S. Supreme Court

justice-srb-1-1040136-s.jpgThe Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the country - meaning that once a case is decided by SCOTUS, there is no other adjudicative body that will hear the case. In essence, the Supreme Court's decision is final.

SCOTUS typically reviews cases that involve constitutional rights such as the right to freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, etc. However, the Supreme Court may be called to make a final decision regarding an immigration issue in the near future.

The case is called Roxana Santos vs. the Frederick County Board of Commissioners. The case is being brought by the Plaintiff, Ms. Roxana Santos, an El Salvadorian national who was entered the U.S. in 2006 and was residing in Maryland without immigration authorization. According to the official court documents, in October 2008, Ms. Santos was sitting in a grassy area outside of her place of employment, eating a sandwich before her work shift began. Two Frederick County police officers drove past her while on a routine patrol and the officers parked their car and approached Ms. Santos. The officers asked if she spoke English, to which she replied she did not, and so the officers attempted to communicate with her using simple English words and phrases.

Ms. Santos presented the officers with her El Salvador national identification card and the officers relayed the information on her card to the dispatcher at the police station to see if Ms. Santos had any outstanding warrants. After the warrant check, the dispatch officer informed the officers that Ms. Santos was subject to a warrant for immediate deportation. The officers handcuffed Ms. Santos and took her to the Maryland detention center, and she was later transferred to a Massachusetts jail. Ms. Santos was held in the Massachusetts jail until November 13, 2008, when she was allowed to leave under an order of supervised release.

The following year in November 2009, Ms. Santos filed a federal lawsuit and alleged that the officers had violated her Fourth Amendment rights by seizing and arresting her, and that they violated her Equal Protection rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment because they interrogated her based only upon her perceived race, ethnicity and/or national origin.

The case first went to the U.S. District Court. The District Court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the officers did not violate Ms. Santos's rights. She appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals and that court affirmed (agreed with) the lower court's ruling but on different grounds. Ms. Santos has now appealed her case up to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is special in that it picks and chooses which cases it wants to review. If SCOTUS decides to hear the case, the outcome may alter how local law enforcement officers approach and interact with both documented and undocumented foreign nationals.

If you or a loved one have been arrested and placed in an immigration detention center, you have rights just like U.S. citizens. Contact our office at 650-293-0270 to speak to a member of our legal team about your options.

Additional Blog Posts

Senate Unveils Initial Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2013
President Obama Signs Rare Private Immigration Bill, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 8, 2013

Immigration News / by Michelle Gee