Reno v. Catholic Social Services

509 U.S. 43 (1993)


Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (Act). Certain aliens unlawfully present in could apply, first, for the status of a temporary resident and then, after a one-year wait, for permission to reside permanently. D created a series of regulations with respect to the Act. Under an INS regulation, an alien would fail the 'continuous unlawful residence' requirement if he had gone abroad and reentered the United States by presenting 'facially valid' documentation to immigration authorities. An alien who had originally entered the United States under a valid nonimmigrant visa, but had become an unlawful resident by violating the terms of that visa in a way known to D before January 1, 1982, was eligible for relief under the Reform Act. If, however, the same alien left the United States briefly and then used the same visa to get back in (a facially valid visa that had become invalid after his earlier violation of its terms), he rendered himself ineligible. Catholic (Ps) challenged the reentry regulation as inconsistent both with the Act and the equal protection limitation derived from Fifth Amendment due process. The INS modified its reentry policy by issuing two new regulations. The first specifically acknowledged the eligibility of an alien who 'reentered the United States as a nonimmigrant and the second qualified this expansion of eligibility by obliging such an alien to obtain a waiver of a statutory provision requiring exclusion of aliens who enter the United States by fraud. D then developed a front-desking policy whereby through a legalization manual prepared for D employees, D conducted pre-filing reviews and rejected applications that did not satisfy the statute. Ps also sued over the validity of the new regulations. P got the verdict in the District Court, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. D appealed, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. D argued that the restrictive judicial review provisions of the Reform Act barred district court jurisdiction over the claim in each case. D also claimed that the District Court erred in ordering an extension of the 12-month application period, the 12-month limit being, it maintained a substantive statutory restriction on relief beyond the power of a court to alter.