The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided an important case for thousands of non-citizens who have been convicted of crimes and were previously denied the opportunity to apply for waivers in the Miami immigration court and elsewhere within the eleventh circuit. The case, Lanier v. U.S. Attorney General,involved a lawful permanent resident who was adjusted to that status after having lived in the United States. She was convicted of a crime after her adjustment and was placed in removal proceedings . She requested a waiver from the Immigration Judge who did not allow her application because of a clause in the law (Section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) that barred a “person previously admitted as a lawful permanent resident” from applying for the waiver sought.
The Appeals Court examined the plain language of Section 212(h) and held that Congress intended only those “admitted” into the United States as lawful permanent residents to be barred from applying for the waiver, not those who already resided in the United States and whose status was merely “adjusted” to lawful permanent resident status without actual admission into the United States.
This case has widespread implications for future and past cases as those previously denied may have standing to seek reopening of their cases in order for the Immigration Court to comply with the Eleventh Circuit Court’s ruling. Stay tuned.