McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc.

RESPONDENT:Haitian Refugee Center, Inc.
LOCATION:Where police chase began

DOCKET NO.: 89-1332
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

CITATION: 498 US 479 (1991)
ARGUED: Oct 29, 1990
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1991

Ira Jay Kurzban – on behalf of the Respondents
Michael R. Dreeben – on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 29, 1990 in McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 20, 1991 in McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc.

John Paul Stevens:

In the second case, McNary against the Immigration and Naturalization Service, No. 89-1332.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 created two broad amnesty programs that allowed existing undocumented aliens to qualify for legal status.

This case concerns the Special Agricultural Workers’ amnesty program under which specified alien farm workers could seek adjustment of their status from the INS if they could establish that they have resided in the United States and performed the requisite amount of qualifying agricultural work during the established time periods.

The INS determined that SAW status eligibility based on evidence presented.

It determined their eligibility based on evidence presented at a personal interview with each applicant.

Judicial review of a determination respecting an application for SAW status was barred except in the context of judicial review of a deportation order which was conducted by the Courts of Appeals.

The Haitian Refugee Center and unsuccessful individual SAW applicants filed a class action in the District Court alleging that the INS’ initial application review process was conducted in an arbitrary manner in violation of the applicants’ statutory and due process rights.

While recognizing that individual aliens could not obtain judicial review of denials of their SAW status applications except in deportation proceedings in the Courts of Appeals, the District Court accepted jurisdiction because the complaint did not challenge any individual determination of an application for such status, but rather contained allegations about the manner in which the entire program was being implemented.

The court found that a number of INS practices violated the Reform Act and were unconstitutional and the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

We also affirm.

The District Court had federal question jurisdiction to hear respondents’ challenges to INS procedures because the statutory language mandating preclusion of judicial review only applies to denials of individuals SAW applications and not to the manner in which the entire program is implemented by the INS.

Not only does the plain language of the statute not barred judicial review of respondent’s challenges but also as a fact of the matter, the individual respondents in this case would be unable to obtain meaningful judicial review of their SAW application denials or of their objections to INS procedures if they were required to avail themselves of the limited judicial review procedure in the statute.

Given this Court’s well-settled presumption favoring interpretations of statutes that allow judicial review of administrative action, we cannot conclude that Congress so intended to foreclose all forms of meaningful judicial review of SAW application denials and general collateral challenges to INS procedures.

Justice White has joined only parts 1 through 4 of the Court opinion and Chief Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Scalia has joined.