Brief Fact Summary. The Immigration and Nationality Act (Act) provided two ways that otherwise deportable aliens who claimed they would be persecuted if deported could seek relief: Section:243(h) & Section:208(a). The issue in this case was whether the Section:243(h) standard governed applications for asylum under Section:208(a).
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The question of whether Congress intended for the two standards to be identical was purely one of statutory construction for the courts to decide.
Issue. Did the “more likely than not” standard of proof from Section:243(h) apply to a Section:208(a) asylum claim?
Held. No. Affirmed the Court of Appeals. The Court rejected the Government’s contention that the Section:243 “more likely than not” standard applied governed applications for asylum under Section:208. Congress used the broader language of “refugee” under Section:208 than it used to describe the class of aliens with a right to withholding of deportation under Section:243. The legislative history of the Act and the text of the Act itself made it clear that Congress intended for two separate standards to apply to Section:243 and Section:208. Dissent. The dissent disagreed with the majority’s statutory construction and urged deference to the agency’s interpretation. Concurrence. The clear language of the statute should be given effect, rather than go through an exhaustive legislative history. Since the Court correctly concluded that the INS’s interpretation was inconsistent with the plain meaning of the Act, there was no reason to even address the issue of deference to the agency.
Discussion. The question of whether Congress intended for the two standards to be identical was purely one of statutory construction for the courts to decide. The Court cited Chevron: “The judiciary is the final authority on issues of statutory construction and must reject administrative constructions which are contrary to clear congressional intent.”