Nijhawan v. Holder

PETITIONER: Manoj Nijhawan
RESPONDENT: Eric Holder
LOCATION: Allied Deals, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 08-495
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2006-2009)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 557 US (2009)
GRANTED: Jan 16, 2009
ARGUED: Apr 27, 2009
DECIDED: Jun 15, 2009

ADVOCATES:
Curtis E. Gannon - Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, argued the cause for the respondent
Thomas E. Moseley - argued the cause for the petitioner

Facts of the case

Manoj Nijhawan was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. He was found responsible for having caused over $600 million in damages and sentenced to 41 months imprisonment. Subsequently, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) determined that Mr. Nijhawan had committed an "aggravated felony" and was subject to deportation because his offense involved fraud or deceit in which the loss to the victims exceeded $10,000. On appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Mr. Nijhawan argued that 1) his offense did not involve fraud or deceit as those terms are used in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and 2) that his conviction did not establish that loss to his victims exceeded $10,000. The court of appeals affirmed the BIA's findings and refuted Mr. Nijhawan's arguments. It held that Mr. Nijhawan's offenses constituted fraud or deceit as understood by the INA and that his conviction did establish that the loss to his victims exceeded $10,000, even though the jury did not determine that amount.

Question

When a person is convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud and held responsible for having caused more than $10,000 in damages, but the sum is not established by a jury, does this satisfy the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to deport an alien for having committed an "offense that involves fraud or deceit in which the loss of victims exceeds $10,000?"

Media for Nijhawan v. Holder

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 27, 2009 in Nijhawan v. Holder

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 15, 2009 in Nijhawan v. Holder

Stephen G. Breyer:

The second case is an immigration case, an immigration that's called Nijhawan v. Holder.

Immigration law permits the Government to deport an alien who is convicted of “aggravated felony”.

And there is a related statute, there's a whole lot of offenses that it calls aggravated felonies.

It defines them.

And one on that long list is “an offense that involves fraud or deceit in which the loss to the victims exceeds $10,000.

The question here is, how does the immigration judge decide, whether a fraud offense of which an alien was previously convicted involved a loss to the victim exceeding $10,000?

Does he just have to look at the fraud statute as it's described in the statute books?

Let's see, for example, maybe there's a monetary threshold there, say, defining the crime as applying only where the loss is greater than $10,000 or $100,000 or greater than a million.

And that threshold is convicted with guarantee that the fraud involved more than $10,000 because it's part of the definition.

Or can the immigration judge also look to the proceedings in the fraud case itself to determine what actually happened?

That matters in this case.

That's because the relevant fraud statute doesn't say anything about amounts.

It doesn't have a threat to show.

So, if we just read the statute, we can't tell whether the defendant defrauded the victim of $5 or $50,000.

But we do know from the record in the particular case that the defendant stipulated its sentencing that the laws from his fraud exceeded a hundred million dollars and the sentencing judge ordered him to pay $683 million in restitution.

We decide that the Immigration Judge can look beyond the statute.

And in this case, we think the Immigration Judge was right to look at the sentencing record.

There are so few fraud crimes defined in the statute books as containing monetary thresholds than to hold otherwise as the defendant wanted us to do would lead the immigration laws fraud provision without any coherent application.

Moreover, we think there's sufficient safeguards for those threatened with deportation.

In the laws requirement that the Government at the deportation proceeding has to prove by clear and convincing evidence that that earlier fraud conviction did involve a loss of at least $10,000 or more and the Government must tie the laws to a specific count of conviction.

We explained all this further in our opinion.

We affirmed the same conclusion reached by the Third Circuit and this decision is unanimous.