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Vartelas v. Holder

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: March 28, 2012
Case #: 10-1211
Justice Ginsburg delivered the Court's opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Scalia dissented, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1211.pdf

Immigration: Application of IIRIRA ยง 1101(a)(13)(C)(v) to convictions entered prior to the passage of IIRIRA imposes a new disability in respect to past events and violates the presumption against the retroactive application of laws in the absence of clear Congressional intent. Additionally, the immigration law in place at the time of conviction is the law that governs the impact of that conviction.

Petitioner is a citizen of Greece and a lawful permanent resident of the United States. In 1997 Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), including INA § 1101(a)(13)(C)(v), which bars admission to lawful permanent residents upon their return from a trip to a foreign country if they commit an offense in violation of INA § 212(a)(2). In 1994, prior to the passage of IIRRIRA, Petitioner pleaded guilty to a felony and in 2003, Petitioner was denied admission to the United States upon his return from a trip to Greece. The Second Circuit found that the crime to which Petitioner pleaded guilty was an offense included within INA § 212(a)(2), and determined that application of INA § 1101(a)(13)(C)(v) to pre-IIRRIRA guilty pleas is not impermissibly retroactive.

The Supreme Court reversed, and held that application of IIRIRA § 1101(a)(13)(C)(v) to convictions entered prior to the passage of IIRIRA imposes a new disability in respect to past events, and violates the presumption against the retroactive application of laws in the absence of clear Congressional intent. The Court found that the legal regime in place under immigration law at the time of the conviction is the regime that governs the impact of the conviction.