AILA Press Release: New Soriano Proposal a Good Down Payment

Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Matt Tallmer, Public Affairs Manager
202-216-2404;    Fax: 202-371-9449

Immigration Lawyers: New Soriano Proposal a Good Down Payment;
Call on INS, Justice To Go Further

July 18, 2000, WASHINGTON, D.C. ─ A new proposed regulation that would restore the rights of certain people to apply for relief from deportation is an important down-payment for further fixes that would benefit additional immigrants, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). This proposed regulation, published in today’s Federal Register, overturns the Attorney General’s previous ruling that legal permanent residents could be deported based on new laws even if their applications for relief had been filed before the new laws existed.

“This proposed regulation helps reaffirm a long-standing principle of American law: that you cannot change the rules in the middle of the game. While dealing with a legal technicality, we cannot lose sight that this issue affects real people who have been torn away from their families due to the law and the Department of Justice’s incorrect interpretation of this harsh, unfair law,” said Jeanne A. Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director. “This needs to be a first step. The Department of Justice also needs to consider the question of relief for other equally deserving immigrants, as well as people who already have been deported under the old Soriano interpretation. They should be allowed to apply for relief, since the government has changed the interpretation upon which their deportation was based. The Department of Justice also needs to step up to the plate and implement administrative remedies to other overly harsh provisions of the 1996 laws.”

The Soriano case dates from June 1996, when the Board of Immigration Appeals held that immigrants who had filed waivers of deportation before April 24, 1996 (the effective date of the Anti-terrorism And Effective Death Penalty Act) could still have their applications adjudicated, even though the new law eliminated the waivers. But the Attorney General vacated that opinion and held that the new law should be applied retroactively, eliminating the right to apply for relief from deportation, no matter when an immigrant’s application for relief was filed. Eight federal appellate courts subsequently rejected the Attorney General’s interpretation, and two more Circuit courts have indicated they also would do so.

“We are pleased that the Justice Department has acquiesced to the interpretation of eight Circuit Courts of Appeal in the new regulation. It has taken nearly four years of litigation to convince the Justice Department to do the right thing and issue the regulation. We call upon President Clinton, Vice President Gore and the Attorney General to move quickly to implement additional administrative remedies and to reverse other equally harsh interpretations of the 1996 laws.” Butterfield said.



Cite as AILA Doc. No. 00071957.