“Jurisdiction is [not necessarily] a word of too many meanings.” Jurisdiction, in its most basic terms, refers to a court’s adjudicatory authority over a case or individual. However, courts’ holdings distinguishing between what is a jurisdictional rule and what is a claims-processing rule have left immigrants even more vulnerable to judges’ discretion. In Santiago-Ortiz v. Barr, the Seventh Circuit held that incomplete charging documents known as notices to appear do not present a jurisdictional question, but rather, a claims-processing one, violations of which can be forfeited if not raised in a timely manner. While some may refer to this distinction as a simple technicality, in immigration law, where most judicial decisions are already discretionary, carefully evaluating these technicalities is of utmost importance. This is even more crucial under an anti-immigrant administration. While many attorneys have successfully terminated cases based on Ortiz-Santiago, filing untimely motions to terminate based on claims-processing rule violations can essentially lead to noncitizens’ removal from the country. . Therefore, the Seventh Circuit should reconsider its simple dismissal of incomplete notices to appear as violations of claims-processing rules and answer the jurisdictional question in the affirmative. As is clear from 8 USC § 1229 defining how immigration proceedings commence, regulation 8 USC § 1003.14, defining how jurisdiction vests and, 8 USC § 1003.13, delineating what is a proper charging document, the notice to appear is intended to assert jurisdiction over an immigration case. Charging documents not abiding by the requirements delineated in 1003.13 are therefore not valid and cannot assert jurisdiction. Additionally, the Seventh’s circuit’s reliance on a case relating to Article III courts rather than agencies interpretations of statutes does not justify the court’s conclusion that notice to appear defects are claims-processing rule violations.
Jurisdiction Means Jurisdiction Not Claims-Processing: the Seventh Circuit’s Flawed Approach to Pereira v. Sessions in Ortiz-Santiago v. Barr,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol15/iss1/10