New US Supreme Court ruling saves Filipino immigrant from deportation

DEPORTATION. This is perhaps among the top stressors of kababayans in the United States, especially those who have already established new lives in this adoptive country. The fear is real, not only among undocumented immigrants, but even among those who have already been granted green cards, also known as Permanent Resident Status.

Green card holders are technically NOT citizens of the United States of America, and therefore do NOT enjoy the same protections from deportation as those who have already naturalized. This is especially true under the Trump administration’s goal to deport undocumented immigrants and even limit legal immigration. Such policy is translated to how arrests are conducted and deportation cases are heard in immigration courts.

We have heard heartbreaking stories of immigrants being deported, despite the fact that they have not committed any serious violent crimes, or do not pose any threat to the security of the United States of America. With the new ruling of the Supreme Court on one kababayan’s case, it may provide hope to many other immigrants fearing deportation.

As we reported on The Filipino Channel’s daily newscast “Balitang America” on Tuesday, April 17, the U.S. Supreme Court (SC) justices’ decision struck down a provision in federal immigration law that they consider “unconstitutionally vague,” and has spared Filipino James Garcia Dimaya from deportation. The surprising twist — the deciding vote was casted by Trump’s SC appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Dimaya legally immigrated from the Philippines to the United States and have lived in Northern California since 1992. He was set to be deported because he pleaded guilty twice to residential burglary, and an immigration judge decided this to be a crime of violence. 

The Supreme Court ruled on April 17 that home burglary was clearly NOT the kind of crime of violence that would justify deportation, effectively eliminating a federal immigration law that calls for mandatory deportation for non-citizens, including long-time permanent lawful residents, who are convicted of “aggravated felony.”

Legal analysts say that this SC ruling could limit the Trump administration’s deportation enforcement efforts.

An attorney for Dimaya said in a statement to the media, “The Supreme Court delivered a resounding message today: You can’t banish a person from his home and family without clear lines, announcing up front.”

The rule of law is still working in the United States. Kudos to Justice Gorsuch for his judicial independence in this ruling.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to and

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