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Supreme Court holds questions of law can apply to undisputed facts in deportation appeal cases
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Supreme Court holds questions of law can apply to undisputed facts in deportation appeal cases

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday in Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr that a request for equitable tolling of a deadline to file a statutory motion to reopen deportation cases is a question of law, which can be reviewed by the courts.

Courts can review a request for an appeal of an immigration matter despite a statute of limitations violation because of a statutory provision within the Immigration and Nationality Act that provides for the appeal includes the application of a legal standard to facts, even if the facts are undisputed or established. In other words, decided facts may become disputed because of a question of law and its application to the facts.

Guerrero-Lasprilla argued that even though there are no questions of fact but rather questions of specific rights related to those facts sought for relief, the statute of limitations did not bar him from relief. The Court Monday agreed.

Writing for the 7-2 majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said “We have ‘consistently applied’ the presumption of reviewability to immigration statutes. And we see no reason to make an exception here. … [I]nterpreting the [statute] to exclude mixed questions would effectively foreclose judicial review.” The statutes’ allowance for appeal given “questions of law,” Breyer wrote, “does indeed include the application of law to established facts. That is particularly so given that the statutory context and history point to the same result.”