Golden Gate University Law Review


Modern deportation procedure is circumscribed by regulations intended to guarantee fairness and uniformity. Federal regulations thus mandate that immigration judges inform noncitizens of their eligibility for relief from deportation in an effort to ensure that unrepresented respondents in immigration proceedings make informed decisions.

Unhappily, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has recently limited this regulation-mandated duty to inform. In United States v. Lopez-Velasquez, the Ninth Circuit held that the duty to inform is not triggered when sources outside the Ninth Circuit indicate that relief may be possible because the relevant Ninth Circuit precedent is no longer correct.

This Note evaluates whether the Ninth Circuit’s holding in United States v. Lopez-Velasquez comports with established immigration due process standards, focusing on the immigration judge’s duty to inform noncitizen respondents of relief from deportation. Part I outlines the facts and procedural history of United States v. Lopez-Velasquez. Part II explains due process standards in immigration proceedings and the standard that triggers an immigration judge’s duty to inform respondents of relief. Part III analyzes the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Lopez-Velasquez and argues that the facts were sufficient to require the immigration judge to inform Lopez-Velasquez of his potential argument for relief from deportation. The Note concludes that the Ninth Circuit’s holding in United States v. Lopez-Velasquez departs from established due process requirements.