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Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center welcomes today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling preserving the right to judicial review for immigrants facing deportation.

The Court ruled in Kucana v. Holder that individuals who seek to reopen their deportation orders have the right to appeal to the federal courts if the immigration courts refuse to do so.

“The people who will benefit most from this decision are those for whom a removal order may be a death sentence,” said Chuck Roth, director of litigation, National Immigrant Justice Center. “People may face persecution, torture, or even death if they are deported to their native countries. Allowing people access to full judicial review under these circumstances not only upholds basic American standards of due process, but also reaffirms our country’s commitment to defending human rights.”

Federal courts have become a necessary level of review for men and women who are denied basic due process rights during immigration hearings at the administrative court level. As U.S. immigration enforcement policies have flooded the immigration courts in recent years, a lack of resources and training for judges has repeatedly led to unfair decisions which have often only been rectified in appeals to U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.

The National Immigrant Justice Center, working in partnership with pro bono attorneys from Sidley Austin LLP, wrote and submitted an amicus brief in Kucana. The brief argues that immigrants should have access to federal appeals courts when the administrative courts refuse to reopen removal proceedings. It describes dozens of cases in which federal courts have chided the immigration agency for irrational decision-making. Other organizations that signed the brief are the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Asian American Justice Center, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Immigration Law Center, and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

View the Supreme Court ruling in Kucana v. Holder

Read analysis of the Supreme Court ruling on NIJC's Immigration Litigation Update blog


Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center is a Chicago-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. For more information visit