CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 12, 2009: Judge Sonia Sotomayor`s immigrant roots has also raised questions on her position on immigration, a hot button issue across the U.S. But an American Civil Liberties Union report says an examination of Judge Sotomayor`s decisions show `an even-handed approach` by the daughter of Puerto Rican migrants.
The ACLU this week released a substantive report that examines the justice`s ruling as confirmation hearings are set for next month on her nomination to the nation`s highest court.
The ACLU report said the New York-born judge has written or joined in over 120 published decisions involving immigration and she has applied `case law and other authorities with care and holding courts and administrative agencies to proper legal standards and procedures.`
`Her opinions are notable for their firm grasp on this technical area of law, a pragmatic approach, and an exceedingly careful review of the record,` states the ACLU.
Judge Sotomayor has decided at least five cases that address the federal courts’ jurisdiction to review administrative deportation decisions or procedural issues relating to the deportation process. In one, she ruled that the defendant had been denied the opportunity for judicial review in his previous immigration proceedings because he was “affirmatively misl[ed]” about the availability of relief from deportation. But she has also written several decisions affirming the Board of Immigration Appeal’s (BIA) determination that a criminal conviction falls within a statutory ground of deportability.
Sotomayor has also authored or joined several important decisions about the scope of judicial review of final orders of removal and has written frequently on the subject of asylum.
`Her asylum opinions reflect a deep and pragmatic understanding of trial-level proceedings, no doubt reflecting her years on the district court,` the ACLU said. `As in other immigration areas, she is even-handed, sometimes affirming and sometimes reversing the BIA. Her opinions show deference to the BIA’s expertise in the immigration field while also holding the BIA to its obligations to provide reasoned bases for its rulings and to apply legal standards consistently.
`One notable characteristic of Judge Sotomayor’s asylum decisions is their painstaking review of the administrative record and careful instruction to the BIA for proceedings on remand.`
Still as a second court circuit judge she has generally sided with the government, opting for a broad reading of criminal statutes even where the statutory text or legislative history permitted a narrower construction, the report found.
But adds the ACLU, `Although Judge Sotomayor has tended to side with the government when considering the merits of immigrant defendants` challenges to their convictions, she has held that the courts at least have jurisdiction to consider such claims.`
On the Second Circuit, Sotomayor has heard appeals in more than 3,000 cases, and has written about 380 opinions.