Appealed from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (May 29, 2009)
Oral argument: March 31, 2010
IMMIGRATION, REMOVAL, DEPORTATION, AGGRAVATED FELONY
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a deportable lawful permanent resident is ineligible to petition the Attorney General for cancellation of removal proceedings if he has a conviction for an “aggravated felony.” Congress defines “aggravated felony” as including any felony under the Controlled Substances Act. Under that Act, simple possession of most narcotics is a misdemeanor. However, possession of a controlled substance by an individual who has a prior conviction for possession is a felony. This case will resolve a circuit split in deciding whether a deportable alien who has been twice convicted in state court for non-felony simple possession is ineligible to seek cancellation of removal proceedings on the theory that the alien has been, for the purposes of federal immigration law, convicted of an “aggravated felony” because he could have been prosecuted for felony recidivist-possession under federal law.