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Immigrants with poor legal counsel can appeal deportation

Immigrants in Pennsylvania who are facing deportation sometimes are forced to rely on inadequate legal counsel. When an attorney commits a clerical error or mishandles a case, defendants could be denied the right to prove why they should be allowed to remain in the country. In many cases, people do not find out that their immigration case was mishandled until the deadline to appeal the deportation decision has already passed.

On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that immigrants who had ineffective legal counsel should be allowed to appeal an immigration decision to a federal appeals court. The case that brought the issue to the Supreme Court's attention involved a man who lost his appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals because his lawyer hadn't filed the right appeals documents.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, a federal appeals court had told the plaintiff that it could not overturn a ruling by the BIA. In the 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court decided that a plaintiff facing deportation could have their case reopened, and the deadline to appeal the case could be delayed. To qualify for a federal appeal, the non-citizen must show evidence that the outcome of their case might have been different if not for ineffective legal counsel.

An immigration attorney may be able to help a person to appeal an immigration decision that was previously affected by negligent legal counsel. After gathering evidence of clerical errors or other missteps, an attorney may be able to help the plaintiff to apply for deportation relief so that they may remain in the country.

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