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Holder v. Gutierrez

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: May 21, 2012
Case #: 10-1542
Kagan, J., for the Court.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1542.pdf

Administrative Law: The Board of Immigration Appeals' decision to reject imputation of parental residency is reasonable and entitled to Chevron deference because it is “based on a permissible construction” of the statute.

The Supreme Court consolidated Holder v. Gutierrez and Holder v. Sawyers. In each case an immigration judge imputed Respondent’s parents’ residency time to Respondent when calculating his personal residency requirements, which qualified him for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1229(a)(2). In both cases the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) reversed and refused to allow imputation, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the BIA’s decisions to not impute residency years from Respondents’ parents when calculating time for cancellation of removal.

The Supreme Court reversed and remanded holding that the BIA’s rejection of imputation was based on a permissible construction of § 1229(b) and was entitled to Chevron deference because the statute neither mentions nor requires imputation and because the history and context of the statute doesn’t mandate imputation.

The Court rejected Gutierrez’s argument that the BIA’s decision were arbitrary and inconsistent because while the BIA has imputed parental attributes in the past, it did so only for matters of the alien’s intentions of residency, not objective conditions or characteristics. Finally, the Court said that because the BIA read the statutory text as supporting non-imputation that there was no precedent for imputing status or residence and that any other reading would create anomalies in administering the statute.