Department of State v. Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers, Inc.

PETITIONER: Department of State
RESPONDENT: Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers, Inc.
LOCATION: Arkansas State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 95-1521
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 519 US 1 (1996)
ARGUED: Oct 15, 1996
DECIDED: Oct 21, 1996

ADVOCATES:
Daniel Wolf - on behalf of the Respondents
Edwin S. Kneedler - on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case

Prior to 1989, Hong Kong automatically granted Vietnamese immigrants temporary refuge. Due to increasing immigration rates from Vietnam, Hong Kong revoked the privilege in 1989 and began requiring that Vietnamese immigrants prove refugee status or be "screened-out" (advised to leave Hong Kong).

The United States consulate continued to process visas for "screened-out" applicants until 1993, when the State Department specifically instructed the consulate to buttress Hong Kong's immigration policy by sending "screened-out" applicants back to Vietnam. Two applicants claimed that the department had violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by denying visas to a class of applicants on the basis of their nationality and place of residence (8 U.S.C. 1152(a)). A district court held that the case was moot and granted summary judgment to the State Department.

Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers, Inc. (LAVAS) appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which reversed the decision and mandated that the foreign consulate continue to process the visa applications. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court and consolidated with Le v. United States Dept. of State.

Question

Did the United States State Department violate the Immigration and Nationality Act by instructing a foreign consulate to cease issuing visas to a class of applicants?

Media for Department of State v. Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 15, 1996 in Department of State v. Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - October 21, 1996 in Department of State v. Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers, Inc.

Antonin Scalia:

To announce the No. 95-1521 United States Department of State versus Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals in this case is vacated and remanded to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for further consideration in the light of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.