Tag Archives: United States v. Palomar-Santiago

Average JOE SCOTUS: United States v. Palomar-Santiago

This is a pretty straight forward case about Mexican Refugio Palomar-Santiago, who legally came to the US and was granted permanent residence in 1990. A year later, he was apparently so excited to be an American, he got drunk as a skunk, and jumped behind the wheel of a car, drove like shit, and got popped for DUI.

In California at the time, a DUI was considered a violent crime, and as such, was a deportable offense. So the US told Refugio he could fuck right off back to Mexico.

Since then, three years later, the Ninth Circuit decided in a separate case, that calling a DUI a crime of violence is fucking stupid. So they quashed that law, and made it retroactive so that anyone prosecuted under that law, would no longer be deemed a violent criminal. In 2004, SCOTUS also came to the decision in Leocal v. Ashcroft, that this was bullshit.

Refugio was like, “Sweet” and made his drunk ass back to the US, but this time he came in illegally. He was eventually busted, so he was like, “Hey assholes, you decided the reason you kicked me out the first time was bullshit, so I have a right to be here. I should’ve never been kicked out the first fucking time. You’re just lucky I’m not asking you to cover my travel expenses.”

But the government was like, “Listen fuckhead. There are rules in coming back into the US. You don’t just get to violate them because the reason we kicked you out has been rendered invalid. You still gotta go through the proper channels, or you’re here illegally.”

Their opening argument points out that Refugio had options available to him for judicial review and shit, but he didn’t pass go, he just collected $200.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS sided with the US, and told Palomar-Santiago to haul his ass back to Mexico. Had he went through the proper channels to get his removal order invalidated, he’d be fine. But he broke the rules coming back, and that shit ain’t allowed.

Hear audio from the case, or read about it here.