Sixth Circuit

Unpublished Sixth Circuit Decision Comments on U.S. Immigration Policy

A senior judge assails U.S. immigration policy and prompts a sharp response.


It is not every day one reads an appellate opinion that cites polling data off the internet to criticize the laws the court is obligated to enforce. Today, in Lopez-Soto v. Garland, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit did just that. More broadly, the opinion by Senior Judge Martha Daughtrey includes an unusually aggressive critique of U.S. immigration policy, which may explain why the opinion was unpublished.

Judge Daughtrey's opinion begins:

In an era in which it is difficult to find any issue upon which a large percentage of Americans agree, few people would dispute that our nation's immigration system is broken and is need of a structural overhaul. Admittedly, a not insignificant number of Americans believe that any change to our immigration statutes should result in shutting our borders to almost all individuals, or at least to all potential immigrants who are not blond-haired and blue-eyed. A June 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center found, however, that approximately 74% of people surveyed felt that our immigration laws should be amended to provide legal status to the approximately 650,000 individuals now in the United States who were brought illegally to this country as children. See (last visited Apr. 2, 2021). That same study further found that approximately 75% of the surveyed individuals supported a pathway to legal status for the approximately 10.5 million other immigrants who now reside in the United States without recognized legal status. Id.

Until the immigration system is reformed, however, individuals like petitioner Imelda Lopez-Soto—who has resided in this country for 21 consecutive years, who has remained employed and paid her federal income taxes when required, who has committed no crimes other than driving on a revoked license, and who has given birth to and raised two admittedly outstanding young boys who are United States citizens—remains subject to removal to a country from which she fled for greater opportunity and for a chance to participate in the so-called American Dream. She now petitions this court for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that denied her requests for withholding of removal, protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), and cancellation of removal. Constrained by precedent and by our immigration laws as they now exist, we must deny her petition.

Judge Karen Moore joined the opinion.

Judge Amul Thapar was also on the panel. He wrote separately, noting he concurred in the result. His brief opinion reads:

I have my doubts about the wisdom of courts opining on hot-button political issues or the motives of citizens who hold one position or another in those debates. And as someone who is neither blond-haired nor blue-eyed and who has benefited directly from the kindness of the American people, I believe that the American Dream is alive and well for persons of all stripes.

Thus, I respectfully concur only in the judgment.

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  1. They’re just hating because blondes have more fun.

    1. 74%, 75% support the illegales. Fake polls.

      1. This is bunko scheme to make the US a permanent one party Democrat nation. They are importing voters.

  2. She seems nice.

  3. Where is the sharp response?

  4. When I say this sounds like Judge Ho, I mean the person — not as a gendered insult. Except maybe even worse than him in the cases I’ve seen. (Although he has cases while she still only has a single case, as far as I know.)

    1. Idk. Opining that there would be less mass shootings if police had even less accountability and that we wouldn’t have political corruption from increased campaign donation if we had smaller government is pretty ridiculous.

  5. So long as the correct legal decision was made, let her whine.

  6. Most European Americans are neither blond hair or blue eyes….but I’m open to that idea of needing “special rights” to Americans who are not blond with blue eyes…30Million Italian Americans are just fine with quotas, set asides, equity and so on…can’t wait to have my kids get in the door at Goldman Sachs and promoted quickly to VP level or in Harvard and so on….or the media..maybe the NYT and Wapo editors can step aside for Italian Americans…about time I say

  7. Honestly I dont mind, and actually prefer, if judges discuss real world impact and use statistics and the like in discussing their argument. That shouldn’t be all or most of the argument. but it can be part. I’m more of a law and economics guy anyhow.

    Throwing in a random poll isn’t that.

    1. I think it’s relevant…to the contents of the judicial mind.

      The more the run their mouths, the more insight we get into how they tick.

    2. Except that’s not how the law is supposed to work.

  8. Surveys of current public opinion are a better basis for jurisprudence than the “research” that has underlay Supreme Court decisions on other hot-button issues.

  9. Apparently the judge does not believe anyone would disagree with her unless they are white nationalists. Ask legal Latino immigrants how they feel about illegals – many dislike them intensely.
    There are at least 2 billion people in the world with the desire and resources to come to the US next year. The only things stopping the migration is the ‘broken’ legal immigration system and the inability of the transportation network to move so many so fast.
    Even the President is now aware that if he hints that they borders are open, a lot of immigrants will show up right away.

    1. “Ask legal Latino immigrants how they feel about illegals – many dislike them intensely.”

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. I am married to one, raised three, live with a family downstairs . . . you don’t know what you’re talking about. STFU.

      1. Well, with that representative sample to poll, who can doubt your opinion?

  10. My wife is blond-haired and blue-eyed. That Democratic federal judges (indeed Democrats generally) hate our family, slur us whenever they can, and generally wish us ill is not really news.

  11. Presumably those polls were not part of the record. It’s hard, therefore, to justify why they’d be cited in a judicial opinion.

    1. Judicial notice! Everyone is aware of these polls!

  12. And you wonder why Americans think an elitist cabal is trying to (or has succeeded in) taking over our nation.
    Exhibit 1 for the Prosecution.

  13. I’m in agreement with what Judge Daughtery says, but I will add that in 1986 as part of the amnesty of the undocumented here in the US, it was agreed that the then administration of President Regan would dramatically change by simplification our immigration laws then on the books. Well, guess what folks, not a damn thing has been done short of Blah, blah, blah. When can we actually work on getting this fixed? I know I am of immigrant stock (Dutch, Irish, and German) as are all of us (unless you are a Native American), so why don’t we all as citizens get together and write our own laws to present to Congress as a petition? It just might work.

    1. “Native Americans” were also immigrants. Everybody was an immigrant.

  14. I have said that a judge is entitled to sometimes recommend changing the law. But that should be done as an addendum to the opinion, at the end, not at the beginninh. And it should be presented as the judge’s opinion, not as the facts of the case. It is one thing to respectfully request or recommend something. It is another to authoritatively declare it so.

    In the main body, judges are also entitled to express sympathy with a plaintiff while saying the law prevents them from granting the requested relief. But it is not their place to out and out castigate the law they are sworn to uphold.

  15. Being deported is not a punishment, nor is it a sentence for committing a crime. Ms Imelda Lopez-Soto is from Mexico. About 100 million people manage to live in Mexico somehow. Is it morally wrong that they live there instead of here?

    If Ms. Lopez-Soto is the great citizen this court makes her out to be, then it sounds like she’s just the kind of person Mexico needs the most.

    Besides, let’s be realistic. After deportation, she can simply cross the border again with near impunity under the current administration.

    1. The constitution does not require immigration decisions to be made based on notions of conventional morality, including concepts of fairness or justice.

      But there is, nonetheless, an argument to be made that they should be.

  16. I was amazed how carefully I had to read the opinion to discern what the result was.

  17. Judge Daughtrey: racist prick

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