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Kucana v. Holder

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


January 20, 2010

AGRON KUCANA, PETITIONER
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL

On Writ Of Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Seventh Circuit Court Below: 533 F. 3d 534

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

OCTOBER TERM, 2009

Argued November 10, 2009

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA or Act), codifying certain rules, earlier prescribed by the Attorney General, that govern the process of reopening removal proceedings. IIRIRA also added a provision stating that no court has jurisdiction to review any action of the Attorney General "the authority for which is specified under this subchapter to be in the discretion of the Attorney General." 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii). A regulation, amended just months before IIRIRA's enactment, provides that "[t]he decision to grant or deny a motion to reopen ... is within the discretion of the [Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)]," 8 CFR §1003.2(a). As adjudicator in immigration cases, the BIA exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General.

Petitioner Kucana moved to reopen his removal proceedings, asserting new evidence in support of his plea for asylum. An Immigration Judge denied the motion, and the BIA sustained that ruling. The Seventh Circuit concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the administrative determination, holding that §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) bars judicial review not only of administrative decisions made discretionary by statute, but also of those made discretionary by regulation.

Held: Section 1252(a)(2)(B)'s proscription of judicial review applies only to Attorney General determinations made discretionary by statute, not to determinations declared discretionary by the Attorney General himself through regulation. Pp. 6-18.

(a) The motion to reopen is an "important safeguard" intended "to ensure a proper and lawful disposition" of immigration proceedings. Dada v. Mukasey, The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Ginsburg

Opinion of the Court

558 U. S. ____ (2010)

Petitioner Agron Kucana moved to reopen his removal proceedings, asserting new evidence in support of his plea for asylum. An Immigration Judge (IJ) denied the motion, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) sustained the IJ's ruling, and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the administrative determination. For that conclusion, the court relied on a provision added to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA or Act), 66 Stat. 166, 8 U. S. C. §1101 et seq., by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), 110 Stat. 3009-546. The provision found dispositive by the Seventh Circuit, 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B), states that no court shall have jurisdiction to review any action of the Attorney General "the authority for which is specified under this subchapter to be in the discretion of the Attorney General," §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) (emphasis added).

We granted certiorari to decide whether the proscription of judicial review stated in §1252(a)(2)(B) applies not only to Attorney General determinations made discretionary by statute, but also to determinations declared discretionary by the Attorney General himself through regulation. We hold that the key words "specified under this subchapter" refer to statutory, but not to regulatory, specifications. We so rule based on the longstanding exercise of judicial review of administrative rulings on reopening motions, the text and context of §1252(a)(2)(B), and the history of the relevant statutory provisions. We take account, as well, of the "presumption favoring interpretations of statutes [to] allow judicial review of administrative action." Reno v. Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U. S. 43, 63-64 (1993) (quoting McNary v. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc., 498 U. S. 479, 496 (1991)). Separation-of-powers concerns, moreover, caution us against reading legislation, absent clear statement, to place in executive hands authority to remove cases from the Judiciary's domain.

I.

A.

In IIRIRA, Congress for the first time codified certain rules, earlier prescribed by the Attorney General, governing the reopening process. The amended Act instructs that reopening motions "shall state the new facts that will be proven at a hearing to be held if the motion is granted, and shall be supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material." §1229a(c)(7)(B). Congress also prescribed that "the motion to reopen shall be filed within 90 days of the date of entry of a final administrative order of removal." §1229a(c)(7)(C)(i). Among matters excepted from the 90-day limitation are motions to reopen asylum applications because of changed conditions in the country of nationality or removal. §1229a(c)(7)(C)(ii).

Section 1252(a)(2), captioned "Matters not subject to judicial review," contains the provision on which this case turns. Subparagraph (B) of that paragraph, headed "Denials of discretionary relief," states:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or non-statutory), ... except as provided in subparagraph (D),[*fn1] and regardless of whether the judgment, decision, or action is made in removal proceedings, no court shall have jurisdiction to review --

"(i) any judgment regarding the granting of relief under section 1182(h), 1182(i), 1229b, 1229c, or 1255 of this title,[*fn2] or

"(ii) any other decision or action of the Attorney General ... the authority for which is specified under this subchapter[*fn3] to be in the discretion of the Attorney General ... , other than the granting of relief under section 1158(a) of this title."*fn4

A regulation, amended in 1996, just months before Congress enacted IIRIRA, 61 Fed. Reg. 18904, Pt. 3, §3.2(a), states that "[t]he decision to grant or deny a motion to reopen ... is within the discretion of the Board." 8 CFR §1003.2(a) (2009). As adjudicator in immigration cases, the Board exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General. See 8 U. S. C. §1103(g)(2); 8 CFR §1003.1. See also 8 CFR §1003.23(b)(3) (governing motions to reopen filed with an IJ).

B.

Kucana, a citizen of Albania, entered the United States on a business visa in 1995 and remained after the visa expired. Alleging that he would be persecuted based on his political beliefs if returned to Albania, Kucana applied for asylum and withholding of removal in 1996. An IJ determined that Kucana was removable and scheduled a hearing to evaluate his eligibility for asylum. When Kucana failed to appear for the hearing, the IJ immediately ordered his removal in absentia. Kucana filed a motion to reopen, explaining that he had missed his hearing because he had overslept. The IJ denied the motion, and the BIA affirmed in 2002. Kucana did not seek judicial review, nor did he leave the United States.

Kucana filed a second motion to reopen his removal proceedings in 2006, contending that conditions in Albania had worsened.*fn5 The BIA denied relief; it concluded that conditions in Albania had actually improved since 1997. Arguing that the BIA had abused its discretion in denying his motion, Kucana filed a petition for review in the Seventh Circuit.

In a fractured decision, the Seventh Circuit dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. Kucana v. Mukasey, 533 F. 3d 534, 539 (2008). The court held that 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) bars judicial review not only of administrative decisions made discretionary by statute, but also "when the agency's discretion is specified by a regulation rather than a statute." 533 F. 3d, at 536.*fn6 In so ruling, the Seventh Circuit created a split between itself and other Courts of Appeals, all of them holding that denials of reopening motions are reviewable in court.*fn7

Judge Ripple concurred dubitante. He acknowledged that the court was following an earlier decision, Ali v. Gonzales, 502 F. 3d 659 (CA7 2007),*fn8 but "suggest[ed] that, had Congress intended to deprive th[e] court of jurisdiction ... , it would have done so explicitly, as it did in 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B)(i)." 533 F. 3d, at 540. The court, he concluded, should revisit both Ali and Kucana and "chart a course ... more closely adher[ing] to the statutory language chosen and enacted by Congress." 533 F. 3d, at 540.

Judge Cudahy dissented. Given the absence of "specific [statutory] language entrusting the decision on a motion to reopen to the discretion of the Attorney General," ibid. (internal quotation marks omitted), he saw no impediment to the exercise of jurisdiction over Kucana's petition. In support of his position, Judge Cudahy invoked the "strong presumption that Congress intends judicial review of administrative action." Id., at 541 (quoting Traynor v. Turnage, 485 U. S. 535, 542 (1988)). With four judges dissenting, the Seventh Circuit denied Kucana's petition for rehearing en banc. See 533 F. 3d, at 541-542 (dissenting statement of Ripple, J., joined by Rovner, Wood, and Williams, JJ.).

We granted certiorari, 556 U. S. ___ (2009), to resolve the Circuit conflict. As it did before the Seventh Circuit, the Government agrees with Kucana that §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) does not remove federal-court jurisdiction to review the denial of a reopening motion. We appointed Amanda C. Leiter to brief and argue the case, as amicus curiae, in support of the Seventh Circuit's judgment. 557 U. S. ___ (2009). Ms. Leiter has ably discharged her assigned responsibilities.

II.

The motion to reopen is an "important safeguard" intended "to ensure a proper and lawful disposition" of immigration proceedings. Dada v. Mukasey, 554 U. S. 1, ___ (2008) (slip op., at 15-16); cf. Stone v. INS, 514 U. S. 386, 401 (1995) (analogizing motions to reconsider immigration decisions to motions for relief from a judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)). Federal-court review of administrative decisions denying motions to reopen removal proceedings dates back to at least 1916. See Dada, 554 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 9-10) (citing cases). This Court has ultimately reviewed reopening decisions on numerous occasions. See, e.g., INS v. Doherty, 502 U. S. 314, 322-324 (1992); INS v. Abudu, 485 U. S. 94, 104-111 (1988); INS v. Rios-Pineda, 471 U. S. 444, 449-452 (1985); INS v. Jong Ha Wang, 450 U. S. 139, 141-146 (1981) (per curiam). Mindful of the Board's "broad discretion" in such matters, however, courts have employed a deferential, abuse-of-discretion standard of review. See Doherty, 502 U. S., at 323 (internal quotation marks omitted).

The Seventh Circuit held that Congress removed the authority long exercised by federal courts to review denials of an alien's reopening request. Congress did so, the Court of Appeals said, in §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii), which removes jurisdiction to review a decision of the Attorney General "the authority for which is specified under this subchapter to be in the discretion of the Attorney General." All agree that the Attorney General's regulation, 8 CFR §1003.2(a), places "[t]he decision to grant or deny a motion to reopen ... within the discretion of the Board." But the statute does not codify that prescription,*fn9 and does not otherwise "specif[y]" that reopening decisions are "in the discretion of the Attorney General."*fn10

III.

A.

1.

The Board's discretionary authority to act on a motion to reopen, we have thus far explained, is "specified" not in a statute, but only in the Attorney General's regulation, which instructs: "The decision to grant or deny a motion to reopen ... is within the discretion of the Board, subject to the restrictions of this section. The Board has discretion to deny a motion to reopen even if the party moving has made out a prima facie case for relief." 8 CFR §1003.2(a). Nevertheless, in defense of the Seventh Circuit's judgment, amicus urges that regulations suffice to trigger 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii)'s proscription of judicial review.

The jurisdiction-stripping provision, amicus reminds, refers to "authority ... specified under this subchapter." As she reads that formulation, the word "under" is key. She comprehends "under" to mean "pursuant to," "subordinate to," "below or lower than," "inferior ... in rank or importance," "by reason of the authority of." Brief for Court-Appointed Amicus Curiae in Support of Judgment Below 15, 17 (citing, inter alia, Florida Dept. of Revenue v. Piccadilly Cafeterias, Inc., 554 U. S. ___, ___ (2008) (slip op., at 5); Ardestani v. INS, 502 U. S. 129, 135 (1991)). Administrative regulations count for §1252(a)(2)(B) purposes, she urges, because they are issued "pursuant to," and are measures "subordinate to," the legislation they serve to implement. The parties, on the other hand, read "specified under this subchapter" to mean "specified in," or "specified by," the subchapter.*fn11

On the reading amicus advances, §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) would bar judicial review of any decision that an executive regulation places within the BIA's discretion, including the decision to deny a motion to reopen. On the parties' reading, however, §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) precludes judicial review only when the statute itself specifies the discretionary character of the Attorney General's authority.

2.

As the parties and amicus recognize, their diverse renderings of "under," standing alone, do not equip us to resolve this case. The word "under" is chameleon; it "has many dictionary definitions and must draw its meaning from its context." Ardestani, 502 U. S., at 135.*fn12 Examining, in statutory context, the provision in which the word "under" is embedded, we conclude that the parties' position stands on firmer ground.

Section 1252(a)(2)(B)(ii), the provision at issue here, is far from the only jurisdictional limitation in IIRIRA. See Dada, 554 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 13) ("In reading a statute we must not look merely to a particular clause, but consider in connection with it the whole statute." (internal quotation marks omitted)); Davis v. Michigan Dept. of Treasury, 489 U. S. 803, 809 (1989) ("[T]he words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme."). Section 1252(a)(2), titled "Matters not subject to judicial review," lists a variety of agency determinations the federal courts lack jurisdiction to review. Those determinations divide into three categories. The first, §1252(a)(2)(A), concerns immigration officers' determinations whether aliens applying for admission are admissible. Next in statutory order is the provision before us, §1252(a)(2)(B), which involves denials of discretionary relief. The last category, §1252(a)(2)(C), concerns final orders of removal entered against criminal aliens.

Both §1252(a)(2)(A) and §1252(a)(2)(C) depend on statutory provisions, not on any regulation, to define their scope. The latter provision, the criminal alien bar, precludes judicial review of "any final order of removal against an alien who is removable by reason of having committed a criminal offense covered in" §1182(a)(2), §1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), (B), (C), or (D), or certain offenses covered in §1227(a)(2)(A)(ii). All the defining references are statutory; none invokes a regulation. The same holds for the admissibility bar in §1252(a)(2)(A). Given §1252(a)(2)(B)'s statutory placement, sandwiched between subsections (a)(2)(A) and (a)(2)(C), one would expect that it, too, would cover statutory provisions alone.

3.

Focusing on §1252(a)(2)(B), we note the lead line serving to introduce both of the subparagraph's two clauses: "[N]o court shall have jurisdiction to review ... ." Clause (i) then places within the no-judicial-review category "any judgment regarding the granting of relief under section 1182(h), 1182(i), 1229b, 1229c, or 1255." Each of the statutory provisions referenced in clause (i) addresses a different form of discretionary relief from removal, see supra, at 3, n. 2, and each contains language indicating that the decision is entrusted to the Attorney General's discretion. See, e.g., §1182(h) ("The Attorney General may, in his discretion, waive [inadmissibility based on certain criminal offenses]."). Clause (i) does not refer to any regulatory provision.

To the clause (i) enumeration of administrative judgments that are insulated from judicial review, Congress added in clause (ii) a catchall provision covering "any other decision ... the authority for which is specified under this subchapter." The proximity of clauses (i) and (ii), and the words linking them -- "any other decision" -- suggests that Congress had in mind decisions of the same genre, i.e., those made discretionary by legislation.*fn13 The clause (i) enumeration, we find, is instructive in determining the meaning of the clause (ii) catchall. Read harmoniously, both clauses convey that Congress barred court review of discretionary decisions only when Congress itself set out the Attorney General's discretionary authority in the statute. See Hall Street Associates, L. L. C. v. Mattel, Inc., 552 U. S. ___, ___ (2008) (slip op., at 9) ("[W]hen a statute sets out a series of specific items ending with a general term, that general term is confined to covering subjects comparable to the specifics it follows.").*fn14

4.

We also find significant the character of the decisions Congress enumerated in §1252(a)(2)(B)(i), thereby insulating them from judicial review. As the Government explained at oral argument, the determinations there listed are "substantive decisions ... made by the Executive in the immigration context as a matter of grace, things that involve whether aliens can stay in the country or not." Tr. of Oral Arg. 14.*fn15 They include waivers of inadmissibility based on certain criminal offenses, §1182(h), or based on fraud or misrepresentation, §1182(i); cancellation of removal, §1229b; permission for voluntary departure, §1229c; and adjustment of status, §1255.

Other decisions specified by statute "to be in the discretion of the Attorney General," and therefore shielded from court oversight by §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii), are of a like kind. See, e.g., §1157(c)(1) (discretion to admit refugees "determined to be of special humanitarian concern to the United States"); §1181(b) (discretion to waive requirement of documentation for readmission); §1182(a)(3)(D)(iv) (discretion to waive, in certain cases, inadmissibility of aliens who have affiliated with a totalitarian party). Decisions on reopening motions made discretionary by regulation, in contrast, are adjunct rulings: The motion to reopen is a procedural device serving to ensure "that aliens [a]re getting a fair chance to have their claims heard." Tr. of Oral Arg. 17. A court decision reversing the denial of a motion to reopen does not direct the Executive to afford the alien substantive relief; ordinarily, it touches and concerns only the question whether the alien's claims have been accorded a reasonable hearing.

If Congress wanted the jurisdictional bar to encompass decisions specified as discretionary by regulation along with those made discretionary by statute, moreover, Congress could easily have said so. In other provisions enacted simultaneously with §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii), Congress expressed precisely that meaning. See IIRIRA, §213, 110 Stat. 3009-572 ("immigration benefits pursuant to this Act; or the regulations promulgated thereunder"), codified at 8 U. S. C. §1324c(e)(2); IIRIRA, §372, 110 Stat. 3009-646 ("any of the powers, privileges, or duties conferred or imposed by this Act or regulations issued thereunder"), codified at 8 U. S. C. §1103(a)(10). "[W]here Congress includes particular language in one section of a statute but omits it in another section of the same Act, it is generally presumed that Congress acts intentionally and purposely in the disparate inclusion or exclusion." Nken v. Holder, 556 U. S. ___, ___ (2009) (slip op., at 11) (internal quotation marks omitted).

B.

The history of the relevant statutory provisions corroborates our determination that §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) does not proscribe judicial review of denials of motions to reopen. Attorney General regulations have long addressed reopening requests. See 6 Fed. Reg. 71-72 (1941). The current regulations, adopted in 1996, 61 Fed. Reg. 18904-18906, derive from rules published in 1958, see 23 Fed. Reg. 9118-9119; Dada, 554 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 10).

Enacting IIRIRA in 1996, Congress "transform[ed] the motion to reopen from a regulatory procedure to a statutory form of relief available to the alien." Id., at ___ (slip op., at 12). IIRIRA largely codified the Attorney General's directions on filing reopening motions. See §1229a(c)(7) (guaranteeing right to file one motion, prescribing contents, and setting deadlines).

In the same legislation, Congress amended the INA aggressively to expedite removal of aliens lacking a legal basis to remain in the United States. See Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Comm., 525 U. S. 471, 475 (1999). Among IIRIRA's several proscriptions of judicial review is the one here at issue, §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii), barring review of administrative decisions Congress placed within the Attorney General's discretion.

Congress thus simultaneously codified the process for filing motions to reopen and acted to bar judicial review of a number of executive decisions regarding removal. But Congress did not codify the regulation delegating to the BIA discretion to grant or deny motions to reopen. See 8 CFR §1003.2(a) (reopening may be entertained not only on application; Board "may at any time reopen ... on its own motion any case in which it has rendered a decision"). Had Congress elected to insulate denials of motions to reopen from judicial review, it could have so specified together with its codification of directions on filing reopening motions.

From the Legislature's silence on the discretion of the Attorney General (or his delegate, the Board) over reopening motions, see supra, at 7-8, n. 10, we take it that Congress left the matter where it was pre-IIRIRA: The BIA has broad discretion, conferred by the Attorney General, "to grant or deny a motion to reopen," 8 CFR §1003.2(a), but courts retain jurisdiction to review, with due respect, the Board's decision.*fn16 It is unsurprising that Congress would leave in place judicial oversight of this "important [procedural] safeguard" designed "to ensure a proper and lawful disposition" of immigration proceedings, Dada, 554 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 15-16), where, as here, the alien's underlying claim (for asylum) would itself be reviewable.*fn17

In the REAL ID Act, Congress further amended the INA. By 2005, two Courts of Appeals had already ruled that 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) did not preclude them from reviewing denials of motions to reopen, see Infanzon v. Ashcroft, 386 F. 3d 1359, 1361-1362 (CA10 2004); Medina-Morales v. Ashcroft, 371 F. 3d 520, 528-529 (CA9 2004), and no court had reached a contrary result. Although adding or reformulating provisions on asylum, §101(a), (b), 119 Stat. 302-303, protection from removal, §101(c), (d), id., at 303-305, even judicial review, §106, id., at 310-311, the REAL ID Act did not disturb the unbroken line of decisions upholding court review of administrative denials of motions to reopen. See supra, at 6-7; supra, at 3, n. 1.*fn18

IV.

Any lingering doubt about the proper interpretation of 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) would be dispelled by a familiar principle of statutory construction: the presumption favoring judicial review of administrative action. When a statute is "reasonably susceptible to divergent interpretation, we adopt the reading that accords with traditional understandings and basic principles: that executive determinations generally are subject to judicial review." Gutierrez de Martinez v. Lamagno, 515 U. S. 417, 434 (1995). We have consistently applied that interpretive guide to legislation regarding immigration, and particularly to questions concerning the preservation of federal-court jurisdiction. See, e.g., INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U. S. 289, 298 (2001); Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U. S., at 63-64; McNary, 498 U. S., at 496. Because the "presumption favoring interpretations of statutes [to] allow judicial review of administrative action" is "well-settled," Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U. S., at 63-64 (quoting McNary, 498 U. S., at 496), the Court assumes that "Congress legislates with knowledge of" the presumption, id., at 496. It therefore takes "clear and convincing evidence" to dislodge the presumption. Catholic Social Services, Inc., 509 U. S., at 64 (internal quotation marks omitted). There is no such evidence here.

Finally, we stress a paramount factor in the decision we render today. By defining the various jurisdictional bars by reference to other provisions in the INA itself, Congress ensured that it, and only it, would limit the federal courts' jurisdiction. To read §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) to apply to matters where discretion is conferred on the Board by regulation, rather than on the Attorney General by statute, would ignore that congressional design. If the Seventh Circuit's construction of §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) were to prevail, the Executive would have a free hand to shelter its own decisions from abuse-of-discretion appellate court review simply by issuing a regulation declaring those decisions "discretionary." Such an extraordinary delegation of authority cannot be extracted from the statute Congress enacted.

V.

A statute affecting federal jurisdiction "must be construed both with precision and with fidelity to the terms by which Congress has expressed its wishes." Cheng Fan Kwok v. INS, 392 U. S. 206, 212 (1968). As we have noted, see supra, at 14, and as amicus emphasizes, "many provisions of IIRIRA [we]re aimed at protecting [from court review exercises of] the Executive's discretion." American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Comm., 525 U. S., at 486 (emphasis deleted). But "no law pursues its purpose at all costs, and ... the textual limitations upon a law's scope are no less a part of its `purpose' than its substantive authorizations." Rapanos v. United States, 547 U. S. 715, 752 (2006) (plurality opinion). While Congress pared back judicial review in IIRIRA, it did not delegate to the Executive authority to do so. Action on motions to reopen, made discretionary by the Attorney General only, therefore remain subject to judicial review.

*  *  *

For the reasons stated, the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Alito, J., concurring in judgment

Justice Alito, concurring in the judgment.

I agree that the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to review the denial of petitioner's motion to reopen his removal proceeding, but I would decide this case on narrower grounds. The controlling statutory provision, 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(B)(ii), states that "no court shall have jurisdiction to review ... any ... decision ... of the Attorney General ... the authority for which is specified under this subchapter to be in the discretion of the Attorney General." (Emphasis added.) The phrase "under this subchapter" refers to Subchapter II of Chapter 12 of Title 8, 8 U. S. C. §§1151-1381, see ante, at 3, n. 3, and, as the Court notes, no provision of Subchapter II confers discretionary authority on the Attorney General to decide motions to reopen. See ante, at 7-8, 14-15. The Court of Appeals, however, held that the Attorney General's decision in this case was unreviewable because a regulation, 8 CFR §1003.2(a) (2009), made that decision discretionary.

If this regulation had been promulgated pursuant to authority conferred by a provision of Subchapter II, we would have to confront the question that the opinion of the Court addresses. But it seems clear that 8 CFR §1003.2, at least insofar as it gave the Attorney General the discretionary authority that he exercised in this case, is grounded on authority conferred under Subchapter I of Chapter 12 of Title 8, 8 U. S. C. §§1101-1107. See 8 U. S. C. §1103(a) (1994 ed.) (giving the Attorney General the authority to "establish such regulations ... as he deems necessary for carrying out his authority under [Chapter 12 of Title 8 of the U. S. Code]").

The amicus curiae whom we appointed to defend the decision of the Court of Appeals has attempted to link 8 CFR §1003.2 to Subchapter II. She notes that the Attorney General, in promulgating that regulation, cited not only 8 U. S. C. §1103(a), but also a provision of Subchapter II, 8 U. S. C. §1252b (1994 ed.). See 61 Fed. Reg. 18900, 18904 (1996).*fn19 This latter statutory provision*fn20 conferred the authority to reopen a narrow set of deportation orders, i.e., those issued after the alien failed to appear at the deportation hearing. Although this statutory provision does not apply to petitioner's motion to reopen, amicus argues that "the section's brief allusion to motions to reopen clearly presupposed that the Attorney General had in place a more general procedure for reviewing all motions to reopen removal proceedings." Brief for Court-Appointed Amicus Curiae in Support of Judgment Below 41-42.

Amicus' argument is ingenious but ultimately unpersuasive. At most, 8 U. S. C. §1252b (1994 ed.) may be read as implicitly authorizing the promulgation of a regulation giving the Attorney General the discretion to reopen certain deportation orders that were issued in absentia. Petitioner's second motion to reopen, however, seeks reopening on grounds outside of §1252b, and therefore 8 CFR §1003.2, insofar as it applies to petitioner's case, was not issued pursuant to Subchapter II and does not implement any provision of that Subchapter.

For these reasons, this case can and should be decided on the narrow ground that, even if some regulations can render a decision of the Attorney General unreviewable, the regulation at issue in this case does not have that effect.


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