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Trump 11th Circuit judge Britt Grant dissented from an August decision granting a stay of removal due to an immigration judge’s legal error.
In Blanc v. United States Attorney General, Maxime Blanc represented himself in removal proceedings. Federal regulations require an immigration judge (IJ) to advise a noncitizen during removal proceedings of the forms of relief for which he is eligible, including voluntary departure. During the proceeding, the IJ never informed Blanc of any eligible relief. The IJ determined that Blanc was not of moral character because he had prior convictions and didn’t deserve the option to leave voluntarily, even though federal regulations do not require a noncitizen to be of good moral character to be eligible for voluntary departure. The IJ ordered Blanc’s immediate removal.
Blanc became aware of the IJ’s failure to inform him of relief options and indicated he would have voluntarily departed had he known that was a possibility. Voluntary departure preserves any rights a noncitizen may have to return to the United States.
Blanc sought a stay of removal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The BIA agreed with the IJ’s ruling and found that the IJ’s failure to inform Blanc was harmless and immaterial as the decision to grant Blanc voluntary departure was discretionary. Blanc turned to the Eleventh Circuit for an emergency stay of removal.
The majority sided with Blanc and found that the IJ’s failure to inform Blanc of his options was a legal error.
Judge Britt Grant disagreed and argued that Blanc would not succeed on the merits and granting him a stay of removal would only delay the inevitable.