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CA9 on Brand X, Retroactivity, 245(i) and Voluntary Departure: Garifas-Rodriguez v. Holder

October 19, 2012 (1 min read)

"In National Cable & Telecommunications Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Services, the Supreme Court instructed federal courts to defer to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes, even when those interpretations conflict with the prior holding of a federal circuit court. 545 U.S. 967, 982-83 (2005).  That is the situation we confront here.  In Acosta v. Gonzales, 439 F.3d 550, 553-56 (9th Cir. 2006), we held that aliens who are inadmissible under § 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(9)(C)(i)(I), are eligible for adjustment of status under INA § 245(i), 8 U.S.C. § 1255(i), in spite of the latter section’s requirement of admissibility.  A year later, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decided that such aliens are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status under § 245(i) in In re Briones, 24 I. & N. Dec. 355, 371 (BIA 2007).  In this case, we must decide whether to defer to the agency’s interpretation of the INA and overrule Acosta and, if so, whether the agency’s interpretation may be applied to Garfias retroactively.  We conclude that we must defer to the BIA’s decision, and we hold that the BIA’s decision may be applied retroactively to Garfias. ... We defer to the BIA’s holding that aliens who are inadmissible under INA § 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I) may not seek adjustment of status under § 245(i).  Furthermore, we hold that under the five-factor test of Montgomery Ward, this rule can properly be applied to Garfias because he filed his § 245(i) application before any court ruled he was eligible to do so.  Finally, we hold that 8 U.S.C. § 1229c(e) unambiguously provides the Attorney General with the authority to promulgate 8 C.F.R. § 1240.26(i), and that Garfias’s grant of voluntary departure terminated upon his decision to file a petition for review." - Garifas-Rodriguez v. Holder, Oct. 19, 2012.