Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Aguirre-Aguirre - Oral Argument - March 03, 1999

Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Aguirre-Aguirre

Media for Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Aguirre-Aguirre

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 03, 1999 in Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Aguirre-Aguirre

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 03, 1999 in Immigration & Naturalization Service v. Aguirre-Aguirre

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument first this morning in Number 97-1754, Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Juan Anibal Aguirre.

Ms. Millett.

Is that the correct pronunciation of your name?

Patricia A. Millett:

Yes.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

In the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress expressly invested in the Attorney General the authority to determine whether an alien who has committed a serious, nonpolitical crime should be denied withholding of deportation.

Congress further made clear that once the Attorney General has serious reasons for considering that such a crime occurred, the bar on withholding is mandatory.

The issue in this case is whether the Attorney General, through the Board of Immigration Appeals, had serious reasons for considering that respondent's acts of burning buses, destroying private stores, and hitting, binding, and stoning innocent civilians constituted serious nonpolitical crimes.

David H. Souter:

What, by the way, if you have a chance, are we supposed to do about the fact that the individual now says that isn't a correct translation; he didn't stone any individuals.

What he said was, he threw stones against the side of the bus or something to stop the bus, but they didn't actually throw stones at individuals, which might be important.

What should we do about that?

Patricia A. Millett:

First of all, we disagree it is important, but even if the Court considered that it was, the respondent has filed a motion to remand with the Board of Immigration Appeals and, I think consistent with this Court's decision in Stone v. INS, this Court can go ahead and proceed to review the judgment that's before it and allow that motion to proceed on its own track.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, this tape question is a very late-in-the-day thing, is it not?

Patricia A. Millett:

It most certainly is.

It didn't appear until the brief in opposition in this Court, and that was--

William H. Rehnquist:

It wasn't presented to the Ninth Circuit at all.

Patricia A. Millett:

--Not at all, even though the same counsel represented Mr. Aguirre there, but that... again, the motion is pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals.

We believe it should have no impact on this Court's resolution of this case, or ability to proceed and decide this case.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Now, it is suggested by the respondent that somehow the board's and the Government's interpretation of the statutory standard differs in some way from that recommended pursuant to the convention and the protocol that bind other nations generally.

Patricia A. Millett:

Uh-huh.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

The language in the convention and protocol looks about the same, but they say the Handbook somehow establishes a more egregious standard.

How have other countries interpreted the protocol and the convention, do we know?

Patricia A. Millett:

In this particular regard, on the question of balancing the risk of persecution there are a couple of other things--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Uh-huh, yes.

Patricia A. Millett:

--the Ninth Circuit required that haven't, as far as we know, been addressed by other countries.

But on the question of balancing the risk of persecution--

Yes.

Patricia A. Millett:

--there are two courts that have directly ruled on it, and they are split.

The Canadian court applied the balancing test that is recommended in the Handbook, without saying that it was compelled, but choosing to apply it.

The British House of Lords has held that the balancing test does not apply, so we have a one-one split.