Wednesday, November 13, 2013

INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre case brief

INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre case brief summary
526 U.S. 415 (1999)

Writ of certiorari was granted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for review of a judgment finding that petitioner agency interpreted the serious nonpolitical crime provision of 8 U.S.C.S. § 1253(h)(2)(C) incorrectly, and remanding respondent alien's immigration case for further proceedings.

Respondent alien was charged with deportability after illegally entering the country. He applied for asylum, acknowledging that he had protested governmental policies in his native country by burning buses, assaulting passengers, and vandalizing private property. Respondent claimed he would be persecuted if deported. Petitioner agency ruled that, under8 U.S.C.S. § 1253(h)(2)(C), respondent was ineligible for withholding from deportation because his activities constituted serious nonpolitical crimes.

The lower court ruled that respondent had incorrectly interpreted § 1253(h)(2)(C), and remanded the case. The court found that § 1253(h)(2)(C) required petitioner to weigh the political nature of respondent's crime against its common-law or criminal character. The lower court erred in ruling that the risk of persecution to respondent should have been balanced against respondent's criminal acts.


  • Petitioner's determination that § 1253(h)(2)(C) required no additional balancing of the risk of persecution was a fair and permissible reading of the statute, and the lower court erred in not affording great deference petitioner's interpretation. 
  • The judgment was reversed and remanded.

The judgment remanding respondent alien's case for review of his asylum claim was reversed. The lower court erred in concluding that the risk of persecution to respondent should have been balanced against respondent's criminal acts. Petitioner agency's reading of the statute was permissible, which called for balancing the political nature of the offense against its common-law character. The case was remanded for further proceedings.

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