INS v. ST. CYR

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
00-767
Petitioner 
INS
Respondent 
St. Cyr
Advocates
(Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

On March 8, 1996, Enrico St. Cyr, a lawful permanent resident, pled guilty in a Connecticut court to a charge of selling a controlled substance. That conviction made him deportable. Before the effective dates of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was interpreted to give the Attorney General broad discretion to waive deportation of resident aliens. The AEDPA and IIRIRA restricted the class of aliens depending on section 212(c) for relief. St. Cyr's removal proceedings commenced after AEDPA's and IIRIRA's effective dates. Subsequently, the Attorney General claimed that the AEDPA and IIRIRA withdrew his authority to grant St. Cyr a waiver. The District Court accepted St. Cyr's habeas corpus application and agreed that the new restrictions do not apply to removal proceedings brought against an alien who pleaded guilty to a deportable crime before their enactment. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Question 

Do the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 strip district courts of their jurisdiction under the general habeas corpus statute to entertain St. Cyr's challenge? Do the AEDPA and IIRIRA deny relief under section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 to aliens who would have been eligible for such relief at the time of their convictions?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for St. Cyr, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 28 USC 2241-2255 (habeas corpus)

No and no. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that habeas jurisdiction was not repealed by AEDPA and IIRIRA. Additionally, the Court held that "[section 212(c)] relief remains available for aliens, like [Enrico St. Cyr], whose convictions were obtained through plea agreements and who, notwithstanding those convictions, would have been eligible for [section 212(c)] relief at the time of their plea under the law then in effect." Justice Stevens wrote that "[w]e find nothing in IIRIRA unmistakably indicating that Congress considered the question whether to apply its repeal of [section 212(c)] retroactively to such aliens."

Cite this Page
INS v. ST. CYR. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_767>.
INS v. ST. CYR, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_767 (last visited November 25, 2014).
"INS v. ST. CYR," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 25, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_767.