Asian American Groups Urge Supreme Court to Hold That Legal Permanent Residents Should Not Be Retroactively Subjected to Harsh New Legal Consequences
WASHINGTON — Members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice—the Asian American Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus and Asian Pacific American Legal Center—have joined an amicus curiae, or friend-of-the-court, brief in Vartelas v. Holder. The brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which seeks to remove a legal permanent resident’s (LPR) right to make “innocent, casual and brief” trips abroad without fear that he will be denied reentry, does not apply retroactively. The brief was filed Nov. 22 by Washington Square Legal Services.
“Changing the rules after the fact on longtime LPRs, who already paid a penalty for certain minor crimes prior to the law’s passage, is unfair. It also has devastating impacts on Asian Americans and other immigrants, who then unknowingly face additional harsh consequences of being permanently separated from their families,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center.
The petitioner is an LPR who pled guilty to and was convicted of a crime for which he was not deportable in 1994. In 2003, almost a decade later, the petitioner took a one-week trip to Greece for family business and upon his return to the U.S. was found inadmissible.
“Retroactive application renders long-time LPR’s unable to take short trips abroad to fulfill important family and religious obligations, including caring for dying parents and attending funerals. They also risk being subject to detention and deportation,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
Through stories addressing the real-life consequences of retroactively taking away the right to make short trips abroad, the amicus brief highlights the importance of travel to LPRs and immigrants and the high degree to which LPRs involved in even minor criminal proceedings consider the immigration consequences associated with decisions over whether and how to plead.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case later this term.
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (www.advancingjustice.org) works to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities, and is comprised of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C.(www.advancingequality.org), the Asian American Institute in Chicago (www.aaichicago.org), the Asian Law Caucus (www.asianlawcaucus.org) in San Francisco and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (www.apalc.org) in Los Angeles.