Friday, April 21, 2006

Freeman v. Gonzales (9th Cir. - April 21, 2006)

What's perhaps most interesting about this case is how long it takes -- 24 single-spaced pages of dense and complicated analysis -- to reach the correct result.

Here, a citizen of another country (Carla Freeman) who's working as an au pair in the United States falls in love with and marries a U.S. citizen, and after her marriage, promptly moves to adjust her status so she can stay here. While her application is pending, however, her husband tragically dies in an automobile accident. At which point the INS moves to deport her, arguing that she isn't a "spouse" anymore since her husband is six feet under. "Sure," says the INS, "if we'd have processed your application promptly, before your husband died, you'd have been counted as a spouse allowed to stay. Moreover, if your husband had lived for another year or so -- he died just short of their first wedding anniversary -- you'd also have been counted as a spouse and allowed to stay. But neither of those things are true. So Ha! Gotcha! Get out of my country!"

Judge Fisher, however, concludes otherwise, but has go overcome a plethora of legal doctrines (including Chevron deference) in order to achieve such a result. Hence the 24 pages.

Good to know that the INS is busy keeping our borders secure by making sure that we try to deport widows of U.S. citizens. Especially au pairs from South Africa. There's no bigger threat to our national security. Plus, I am confident that we'd be overrun with grieving widows -- and they'd take our valuable au pair jobs -- were we to fail to deport them. Keep up the good work, INS.