Oral argument: Oct. 12, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Sept. 17, 2007)
After Petitioner Joel Judulang, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was convicted of a deportable offense, the Board of Immigration Appeals determined that he was not eligible for a discretionary waiver of deportability under Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. On its face, Section 212(c) applies only to lawful permanent residents who are excludable when they attempt to enter the country, rather than to residents convicted of deportable offenses while already in the country. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals has previously allowed some permanent residents convicted of deportable offenses to apply for the Section 212(c) discretionary waiver. Petitioner Judulang asserts that he should be allowed to take advantage of the waiver, since his deportable offenses would render him excludable if he tried to re-enter the country. Judulang further argues that the Board of Immigration Appeals' change in Section 212(c) policy regarding deportable and excludable offenses is impermissibly retroactive and facially unconstitutional. The Department of Justice argues that the Board of Immigration Appeals has good reason to require a close textual similarity between a charged ground of deportability and a waivable ground of excludability, and that its policy is not impermissibly retroactive because it does not reflect a change in previous law. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will mean the difference between amnesty and deportation for many lawful permanent residents convicted of deportable offenses.