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Judulang v. Holder

United States Supreme Court
565 U.S. 42 (2011)


There were two federal statutory schemes that addressed the rights of foreign citizens to be in the United States. One controlled whether a foreigner could enter the United States for the first time or whether the foreigner would be excluded. The other controlled whether a foreigner could remain in the United States as a resident alien or whether the foreigner would be deported. The two statutes contained different lists of crimes that would result in either exclusion or deportation, respectively. The statute excluding aliens gave United States Attorney General Eric Holder (defendant) the right to provide discretionary relief, and grant rights to a foreigner despite the foreigner's conviction of a crime listed in the exclusionary statute. However, the deportation statute did not directly include the same provision. On Holder's behalf, the Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) set and administered the rules by which discretionary relief would be provided. Because the deportation statute did not include its own discretionary-relief provision, the BIA used the exclusionary statute’s discretionary-relief provision to decide whether someone was entitled to discretionary relief from both exclusion and deportation. This meant BIA also used the exclusionary statute’s list of crimes to determine whether discretionary relief was available for potential deportees. Joel Judulang (plaintiff), a resident alien, had been convicted of two criminal offenses listed in the deportation statute. A judge ordered Judulang to be deported. Under the BIA's rules, Judulang was not entitled to discretionary relief from the judge's deportation order, because Judulang's deportation offenses were not included in the exclusion statute's list of offenses. Judulang appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which upheld the BIA’s determination. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split on the validity of the BIA's rules.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kagan, J.)

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