Aguilera-Enriquez (plaintiff) was born in Mexico but became a legal permanent resident in the United States in 1967. He traveled to Mexico in 1971 and was arrested for possession of cocaine at the border when he tried to return to the United States. He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation. Because of his conviction, the Immigration and Naturalization Service began deportation proceedings pursuant to section 241(a)(11) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. At the hearing, the immigration judge refused to appoint counsel as Aguilera-Enriquez had requested, and ordered him deported. Aguilera-Enriquez hired counsel who filed a motion in the district court to withdraw his guilty plea and filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Board dismissed the appeal, and Aguilera-Enriquez then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, arguing that he had the right to appointed counsel during the deportation proceedings.