(CN) - A Nicaraguan woman must be given the chance to confront her ex-husband, who claimed she paid him $1,000 to marry him for immigration benefits, the 7th Circuit ruled. "The best way to find out whether a subpoena will work is to issue one," Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote.
Manuela Malave faced deportation after her ex-husband, Jose Antonio Malave Cruz, told authorities that she had paid him to enter into a sham wedding.
When interviewed in 1997, Jose signed a statement asserting that "Manuela Gaula gave me $1,000 to marry her so she could get her green card."
Manuela denied this, but has been unable to locate Jose since the interview took place.
She claimed she was never given the chance to cross-examine Jose about the statements. The immigration judge "stated that a subpoena would be futile, because if Manuela had not found Jose in the last 10 years, she never would," according to the federal appeals court in Chicago.
"That's not a good reason," Easterbrook wrote.
"A prediction that a person can't be found, or that cross-examination won't be fruitful, is a poor reason to deny a litigant the statutory entitlement to cross-examine adverse witnesses," he said. "The best way to find out whether a subpoena will work is to issue one."
The court granted Manuela's petition for review and sent the case back to the immigration agency.