Courthouse Steps Oral Argument Teleforum: United States v. Palomar-Santiago

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On April 27, 2021, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the case of U.S. v. Palomar-Santiago.  Defendant Palomar-Santiago lost his permanent resident status in 1991 after a California felony DUI conviction.  He was deported and subsequently reentered the country without authorization. 

In the meantime, the Ninth Circuit held that felony DUI was not a crime of violence necessitating the deportation of a permanent resident-defendant.  Now Palomar-Santiago challenges his current 8 U.S.C. 1326 illegal reentry indictment using Ninth Circuit precedent that his initial removal was fundamentally unfair since the crime underlying his deportation was improperly categorized.

The District Court agreed with Palomar-Santiago and the Ninth Circuit affirmed without addressing the merits of the government’s argument: that the Ninth Circuit's decision redefining felony DUI was wrongly decided.

The Supreme Court will address the question whether a defendant who was removed from the United States is automatically entitled to a defense of invalid removal where the crime underlying his removal is no longer a qualifying removal offense within his circuit.


Brian Fish, Special Assistant, United States Attorney, Baltimore, Maryland 


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