Immigration Law

CA9 on CSPA, Calculation of Age: Rodriguez Tovar v. Sessions

Rodriguez Tovar v. Sessions - "This case illustrates the dangers of reading statutory provisions in isolation. The question before us is whether Margarito Rodriguez Tovar, a child of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who was deemed by statute to be a minor child until the very day his father naturalized, still qualified as a minor on that day, or whether instead his father’s naturalization transformed him on the spot from a minor into an adult. The government and the BIA have parsed individual provisions of the labyrinthine Immigration and Nationality Act to arrive at the latter position, with the effect that a parent’s naturalization can cause a child to be deported forthwith and to wait for decades in a foreign land for an immigrant visa—a visa that he would have had in a short period of time if his parent had not become a citizen.

We reject this reading because, considering the relevant statutes as a whole, it is clearly not the interpretation that Congress intended. Rather, we conclude that anyone who under the relevant statutes is considered a minor child of an LPR on the date of the parent’s naturalization (and who is the beneficiary of a valid petition for an immigrant visa based on that status) can obtain a visa as the minor child of a citizen following his parent’s naturalization. ... [T]he irrationality of the result sought by the government shows conclusively that there is only one possible answer to the question before us. Accordingly, we do not defer to the BIA’s opinion in Matter of Zamora-Molina, 25 I. & N. Dec. 606. ... 

... In other words, “age” in 8 U.S.C. § 1151(f)(2) refers unambiguously to age as calculated under 8 U.S.C. § 1153(h)(1). We reject the BIA’s contrary holding in Matter of Zamora-Molina, 25 I. & N. Dec. 606, as well as the district court’s parallel reasoning in Alcaraz v. Tillerson, No. 2:17-cv-457-ODW (C.D. Cal. July 26, 2017). The petition for review is granted and the case is remanded to the BIA with instructions to find that Rodriguez Tovar has an immediately available visa as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen and to conduct further proceedings regarding the other requirements for adjustment of status."

[Hats way off to lead counsel Lilia Alcaraz!]