Lawrence v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 05-21-2013
  • Case #: 07-74829
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fernandez for the Court; Circuit Judges Rawlinson and
  • Full Text Opinion

The term "admissions" in Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(c) refers to the date of the application for relief; thus an aggravated felon who served over five years in prison and filed a petition for relief after November 29, 1990, is barred from relief, “regardless of the date the alien was initially admitted to the United States.”

In 1987, Alfredo Lawrence entered the United States from Panama as a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”). Near the end of a sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping, an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) found Lawrence was “removable as a LPR convicted of an aggravated felony and a crime involving moral turpitude.” Lawrence sought asylum and withholding of removal, both of which the IJ denied. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) dismissed Lawrence’s appeal, and Lawrence applied for a waiver under Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) § 212(c) on March 2, 2004. Lawrence argued that he could seek § 212(c) relief despite the bar against applicants with an aggravated felony conviction and who have served over five years in prison because the bar applied only to “admissions” taking place on or after November 29, 1990, but he was admitted as an LPR in 1987. The IJ determined he was barred, Lawrence appealed, and the BIA affirmed, noting the bar applied to applications filed after November 29, 1990, regardless of admission date to the United States. To determine the meaning of “admission” and “admitted,” the Ninth Circuit looked at the historical context of the INA waiver that suggested the date is that of “their application for relief.” The panel then looked to the Attorney General’s interim ruling, which explained that the phrase “‘shall apply to admissions‘ as used in section 511(b) of [the Immigration Act of 1990] refers to all applications for relief pursuant to section 212(c) of the Act submitted after November 29, 1990.” The panel finally looked to six other circuit appellate courts, all of which agreed with the BIA’s interpretation of the INA. The panel held that because Lawrence filed after November 29, 1990, and is an aggravated felon, he fell outside the scope of § 212(c). Petition DENIED.

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