JUNE 17, 2008
Although the U.S. was attacked in 2001 by Islamic terrorists who had overstayed their visas, a new Supreme Court ruling makes it easier for such foreigners who overstay their visas to remain in the country legally.
The High Court ruled in favor of a Nigerian illegal immigrant (Samson Dada) who entered into a sham marriage to obtain U.S. citizenship while overstaying a tourist visa five years. He entered the country with a nonimmigrant visa in 1998 and, like many foreigners who do, decided not to leave when it expired.
By 2004 the Department of Homeland Security finally decided Dada should be removed and an immigration judge denied a petition for him to stay. The illegal immigrant then requested voluntary departure in lieu of removal, and he was given 30 days to leave the country.
Instead, he withdrew the voluntary departure request on the 28th day and filed a motion to reopen the case with Board of Immigration Appeals, which denied the request and said he must leave. Dada then appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana, which denied him relief in an unpublished one-page decision in 2006.
Refusing to give up, Dada appealed to the Supreme Court in 2007 and, incredibly, this multiple violator of federal laws got what he wanted from the nation’s highest court. In a 5-4 decision the court ruled that someone who is in the country illegally may withdraw his voluntary agreement to depart and continue to try to adjust his status in the U.S. The justices didn’t consider that federal authorities had determined with certainty that the man’s marriage was a stunt to remain in the country.
The ruling certainly sends a strange message to those who violate our laws, including terrorists who use tourist visas to enter the country to plan deadly attacks. In fact, September 11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and fellow hijacker Marwan al Shehhi both overstayed their visas as did several of the 2001 terrorists.
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