On December 12, 2011 the Supreme Court announced its decision in Judulang v. Holder. This case addresses the policy of the Board of Immigration Appeals regarding when resident aliens convicted of certain offenses may apply to the Attorney General for relief from deportation.
Prior to 1996, denial of entry to aliens who had not been admitted to the United States was described as “exclusion,” while the removal of aliens already admitted to the United States was termed “deportation.” In certain circumstances a provision of immigration law allowed the Attorney General to grant relief to aliens in exclusion proceedings, but this provision did not apply to similarly situated aliens in deportation proceedings. The Board of Immigration Appeals would nevertheless make relief available, but only if the basis for deportation was “substantially equivalent” to an analogous grounds for exclusion. This was known as the “comparable grounds” rule.
Here, petitioner Judulang was subject to deportation and denied the opportunity to seek relief because the Board determined that his underlying offense was not comparable to any of the possible grounds for exclusion. In an opinion delivered by Justice Kagan, the Supreme Court reversed, holding unanimously that the Board’s “comparable grounds” rule was “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act.
To discuss the case, we have Jeffrey Pojanowski, who is a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.