United States v. Rangel-Rodriguez, No. 19-2113 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The petitioners, both Mexican citizens, were never lawfully admitted to the U.S. Years ago, each was served with a Notice to Appear (NTA) for removal proceedings. The NTAs were defective; they did not list the date or time for an initial hearing. The petitioners were not present at their respective removal hearings. They were ordered removed in absentia. Both were removed to Mexico. Each illegally returned to the U.S. and each was indicted for illegal reentry, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a). In light of the Supreme Court’s 2018 Pereira v. Sessions decision, they moved to dismiss their indictments by collaterally attacking their underlying removal orders (8 U.S.C. 1326(d)) based on the defective NTAs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denials of their motions. The petitioners failed to demonstrate that they satisfy the requirements of section 1326(d). Neither exhausted administrative remedies by petitioning to reopen removal proceedings. Catching the errors in the deficient NTAs would not have led to non-discretionary relief from removal; if either had alerted the immigration court of the NTA’s omissions, ICE could have proceeded with removal by serving a new, compliant NTA. Pereira addressed the “narrow question” whether an NTA that omits the time or place of an alien’s removal hearing triggers the statutory stop-time rule and terminates the period of continuous physical presence in the U.S. necessary for an alien to be eligible for discretionary cancellation of removal.