Honorable Wilbur D. Owens, Jr., Senior U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, sitting
INA § 212(c) was subsequently repealed by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility
Act of 1996 ("IIRIRA") § 304(b), "and replaced by new INA § 240A, codified at 8 U.S.C.A. § 1229b (West
1999). [New] INA § 240A consolidates 'suspension of deportation' relief with provisions of the old INA §
212(c) to create a new form of relief called 'cancellation of removal.' 'Cancellation of removal' relief is
available for aliens whose criminal convictions do not qualify as 'aggravated felonies.' See IIRIRA § 304(a),
codified at 8 U.S.C.A. § 1229(b) (West 1999). These permanent provisions of IIRIRA apply only to those
aliens ordered deported after April 1, 1997, the effective date for IIRIRA, and are not applicable here."
Nahro Sudqi INNAB, Petitioner-Appellant,
Janet RENO, Attorney General of the United States, Doris Meissner, Commissioner of the Immigration
United States Court of Appeals,
March 1, 2000.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.(No. 98-02397-1-CV-GET),
G. Ernest Tidwell, Judge.
Before EDMONDSON and BIRCH, Circuit Judges, and OWENS
, Senior District Judge.
Nahro Sudqi Innab appeals the district court order denying his petition for habeas corpus, in which
he sought review of his claim that section 440(d) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996, codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1182(c) (West 1997) ("AEDPA") should not be applied to his pending
application for waiver of deportation under section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"),
8 U.S.C. § 1182(c)( West 1995).
Innab, a native of Jordan, was lawfully admitted into the United States as a permanent resident on
the United States. On March 20, 1987, Innab pled guilty and was convicted of misdemeanor possession of
The 1987 conviction was set aside by the Superior Court of Nash County, North Carolina, on July 8,
deportation in 1987 and because "the law regarding the effect of the conviction for carrying a concealed
weapon as it relates to deportation has changed," "the intent of the plea agreement ha[d] been undermined."
The court therefore concluded that the effect of the change in the law as applied to Innab would be ex post
facto and a bill of attainder in violation of the United States Constitution. R1-1-Exh. 2.
Similarly, Innab asserts that the 1992 conviction was set aside by the Superior Court of Nash
County, North Carolina, on December 22, 1998, on the same basis as the 1987 conviction. See
Appellant's Supplemental Brief at 7, Innab v. Reno (No. 98-09114). The government does not
dispute the fact that this state court action occurred. See Brief for Respondents at 4, Innab v. Reno
(No. 98-09114). However, the 1992 conviction was set aside after the district court entered its
decision, and the record was not supplemented with the relevant court order or other evidence of the
court's December 22, 1998, action. Innab argues in a supplemental brief that, because all criminal
convictions supporting his deportation have been set aside, we should set aside and dismiss the order
for his deportation. Innab further asserts that the INS is violating the Tenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution by ignoring the state court's decision to set aside his convictions. The
government has not addressed these claims, but suggested during oral argument that the reasoning
used by the state court to set aside Innab's convictions could implicate the Supremacy Clause of the
United States Constitution and that the INS might take the position that, because the purpose of the
state court action was to frustrate federal immigration policy, the state court's setting aside of Innab's
criminal convictions does not invalidate the basis for his deportation. Moreover, the government
suggested that the issues surrounding the state court's decision to set aside Innab's convictions are not
properly before this court because Innab has not filed a petition to reopen his deportation hearing and,
therefore, not exhausted his administrative remedies. See 8 U.S.C. § 1252(d)(1); Hernandez-
Almanza v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, INS, 547 F.2d 100, 103 (9th Cir.1976). Because the legal
arguments and underpinning facts regarding these issues have not been fully developed and because
we find that the district court has jurisdiction to consider Innab's habeas petition, we do not rule on
these issues. We, instead, leave these issues for consideration by the district court on remand.
stolen goods and carrying a concealed weapon (the "1987 conviction"). Innab was convicted of possession
Naturalization Service ("INS") initiated deportation proceedings against Innab by ordering him to show cause
why he should not be deported on the basis of the 1987 and 1992 convictions.
Innab conceded his
of the INA, one day prior to the enactment of the AEDPA. On October 29, 1996, the Immigration Judge
denied Innab's plea for statutory relief under INA § 212(c) and ordered that he be deported. See R1-1-Exh.
3. On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") found that Innab was "statutorily ineligible" for
"Under the law in effect prior to the enactment of AEDPA, certain aliens, otherwise determined to be
was discretionary act of the Attorney General, or her representatives, that would allow the alien to remain in
the United States. The alien presented his application to the Immigration Judge ('IJ'), who had discretion to
waive the deportation of an alien based upon such factors as time spent and family ties in the United States
and restitution for criminal activity. Section 440(d) of AEDPA greatly expanded the category of criminal
convictions that would render an alien, including [Innab], ineligible to apply for relief under INA § 212(c).
We note that both Tefel, 180 F.3d at 1302 (concluding that IIRIRA § 309(c)(5)'s application of INA §
244A(d)(1)'s stop-time rule to aliens in deportation proceedings prior to the enactment of the IIRIRA is not
retroactive), and Mayers, 175 F.3d at 1303 (concluding that applying AEDPA § 440(d) to pending
applications for a § 212(c) waiver would have retroactive effect because it " 'attaches a new disability' and
relief from deportation under INA § 212(c) because AEDPA § 440(d) pretermitted his application for relief.
R1-1-Exh. 4. Innab filed a petition for review of the BIA's decision with this Court which was dismissed on
July 16, 1998, for lack of jurisdiction according to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act of 1996 ("IIRIRA"), §§ 309(c)(4)(E) and (G), 8 U.S.C.A. § 1229(a). See R1-3-Exh.1.
Subsequently, Innab filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus requesting that the district court stay
Innab's deportation and release him under reasonable conditions while the district court reviewed the BIA's
decision. See R1-1-6. Further, Innab asserted that, because the BIA wrongly and retroactively applied
AEDPA § 440(d) to his case, the district court should vacate the BIA's order of deportation, order the INS
to resume Innab's deportation proceedings, and adjudicate the applicability of INA § 212(c) without regard
to AEDPA § 440(d) or IIRIRA § 309. See id. at WW 16, 22. On October 28, 1998, the district court denied
Innab's motion to stay his deportation and dismissed his petition for writ of habeas corpus, reasoning that it
lacked jurisdiction over the matter according to the new INA § 242(g), 8 U.S.C. § 1252(g). See R1-6-2. Innab
appeals this order.
We review de novo issues of subject matter jurisdiction. Tefel v. Reno, 180 F.3d 1286, 1295(11th
Cir.1999), reh'g and reh'g en banc denied, 198 F.3d 265 (11th Cir.1999).
Recently, we were presented with a markedly similar set of circumstances in Mayers v. Reno, 175
F.3d 1289 (11th Cir.1999).
In Mayers, we considered the habeas corpus petitions of two aliens, Efrain
114 S.Ct. 1483,1499, 128 L.Ed.2d 229 (1994)), discuss the retroactive application of changes in the INA via
the IIRIRA and AEDPA, respectively, and reach opposite conclusions. However, the disposition of both
cases hinges on the first step in the Landgraf analysis and, therefore, the discussions regarding retroactive
effect are not applicable here. See Tefel, 180 F.3d at 1302 ("No one disputes that, in enacting NACARA §
203(a)(1), Congress mandated the application of the stop-time rule to aliens against whom deportation
proceedings began prior to IIRIRA. Therefore, even assuming that NACARA § 203(a)(1) constituted the
retroactive application of a statutory provision, there would be [no] need for this Court to apply the judicial
presumptions against retroactive application of new statutes because Congress expressly provided for this
'retroactive' application."); Mayers, 175 F.3d at 1303, 1304 (noting that having "established that Congress
intended only prospective application of AEDPA § 440(d), ... [we] need not reach the second step of the
Landgraf analysis," whether applying AEDPA § 440(d) to the petitioners would have retroactive effect and
that our findings regarding congressional intent meant that "we did not reach petitioners' claim that AEDPA
§ 440(d) violates the Equal Protection Clause").
It is undisputed that Innab's claim falls under the IIRIRA's transitional rules because he was placed into
deportation proceedings commenced prior to April 1, 1997, and became final after October 30, 1996. See
Mayers, 175 F.3d at 1293 n. 4 (explaining that "AEDPA § 440(a) governs deportation orders that became
final before October 31, 1996. Orders that became final after this date, but before April 1, 1997, are governed
by IIRIRA's transitional rules (set forth in § 309(c) and not codified in the United States Code). All
proceedings that commence after April 1, 1997, are governed by IIRIRA's permanent rules, set forth in new
INA § 242 and codified at 8 U.S.C.A. § 1252 (West 1999).").
Gutierrez-Martinez and Trevor Mayers, claiming that section 440(d) of the AEDPA should not have been
As with the case at bar, the claims of both petitioners in Mayers were governed by the transitional rules of
the IIRIRA. See 175 F.3d at 1297.
There we applied the Supreme Court's decision in Reno v. American-
application of the jurisdiction-excluding provision of new INA § 242(g), 8 U.S.C.A. § 1252(g), to "three
discrete actions that the Attorney General may take: her 'decision or action' to 'commence proceedings,
adjudicate cases, or execute removal orders' ") and concluded that the new INA § 242(g)'s exclusive
jurisdiction provision does not apply to the review of final orders of deportation cases governed by the
transitional rules of the IIRIRA and, therefore, does not eliminate the district court's subject matter
jurisdiction. See Mayers, 175 F.3d at 1297. We further concluded that "habeas corpus jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 2241[had] survived the enactment of AEDPA." Mayers, 175 F.3d at 1299. As the appellee
concedes, Mayers controls the question of whether the district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241
In Hadix, the Supreme Court indicated that, when interpreting whether Congress intended for a statute
which address similar subject matters. 119 S.Ct. at 2005 (finding that a negative inference does not arise from
the silence of one chapter of a statute when compared to the inclusion of explicit language in another section
making that section applicable to pending cases if the two sections address "wholly distinctive subject
matters"). We did not rely solely upon the "negative inference" argument to reach our conclusion in Mayers.
Instead, we carefully reviewed the legislative history of the AEDPA and found that it to be substantial
evidence of Congress's intent, not "an ambiguous act of legislative drafting." Compare Hadix, 119 S.Ct. at
2005 (discussing respondents' claim "that when the attorney's fees limitations were originally drafted, they
were in the section that became § 802 of the PLRA [Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995], which at the time
contained language making them applicable to pending cases." Later, the fees provisions were moved to what
became § 803 of the PLRA, a section without language making them applicable to pending cases) with
Mayers, 175 F.3d at 1303-04 (discussing the documented legislative history of the AEDPA: "The original
Senate version of the bill that became AEDPA contained an explicit instruction that the provision, later
structured as AEDPA § 440(d), would apply to pending cases. The House version of that same provision,
in contrast, was prospective. When the bill emerged from the conference committee, the original Senate
language making § 440(d)'s restrictions retroactive had been removed." (citations omitted)).
In Aguirre-Aguirre, the Supreme Court reiterated its holding in INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480
U.S. 421, 107 S.Ct. 1207, 94 L.Ed.2d 434 (1987) "that the BIA should be accorded Chevron
deference as it gives ambiguous statutory terms 'concrete meaning through a process of case-by-case
adjudication,' " 119 S.Ct. at 1445 (citation omitted), and instructed that in so doing "the court should
to review Innab's final order of deportation. Accordingly, we find that the district court erroneously
In Mayers, we also addressed the issue of whether AEDPA § 440(d) should be applied retroactively
and determined "that Congress intended that AEDPA's § 440(d)'s amendment of INA § 212(c) should not
apply to pending cases." 175 F.3d at 1304. The government urges that we reconsider this holding in light
of two recent Supreme Court decisions—Martin v. Hadix, 527 U.S. 343, 119 S.Ct. 1998, 144 L.Ed.2d 347
(1999) (limiting the use of the "negative inference" when interpreting congressional intent regarding the
retroactive application of a statute to the comparison of chapters within a statute that address similar issues),
and INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre, 526 U.S. 415, 119 S.Ct. 1439, 143 L.Ed.2d 590 (1999) (finding that Chevron
deference should be given to the BIA's interpretation of a "serious nonpolitical crime" when applying that
exception in order to deny an illegal immigrants application for withholding deportation under 8 U.S.C. §
1253(h)). Having reviewed these intervening decisions, we find that the conclusion we reached in Mayers
and its application here are consistent with the requirements and added guidance they provide.
so, 'the question for the court [was] whether the agency's answer is based on a permissible
construction of the statute.' " Id. (citations omitted) (brackets in original). In Mayers, we determined
that if the BIA's decision regarding the effective date of the AEDPA was accorded Chevron
deference, we must, nonetheless, reverse the BIA's retroactive application of § 440(d) because it
violates congressional intent, as determined by a review of the legislative history of the AEDPA. 175
F.3d at 1302-04. See Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense, 467 U.S. 837, 846, 104
S.Ct. 2778, 2783, 81 L.Ed.2d 694 (1984) (" 'If [an executive department's construction of a statutory
scheme it is entrusted to administer] represents a reasonable accommodation of conflicting policies
that were committed to the agency's care by the statute, we should not disturb it unless it appears
from the statute or its legislative history that the accommodation is not one that Congress would have
sanctioned.' ") (quoting United States v. Shimer, 367 U.S. 374, 382-83, 81 S.Ct. 1554, 1560-61, 6
L.Ed.2d 908 (1961)), id. at 846, 843 n. 9, 104 S.Ct. at 2783, 2781-82 n. 9 ("The judiciary is the final
authority on issues of statutory construction and must reject administrative constructions which are
contrary to clear congressional intent" (citations omitted)); see also Regions Hosp. v. Shalala, 522
U.S. 448, 118 S.Ct. 909, 914-915, 139 L.Ed.2d 895 (1998) ("If, by 'employing traditional tools of
statutory construction,' we determine that Congress' intent is clear, 'that is the end of the matter' ")
(quoting Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842-43, 104 S.Ct. at 2781 ). Moreover, we believe that the question
regarding the effective date of § 440(d) of the AEDPA and whether it should be applied retroactively
to pending cases that was addressed in Mayers should be distinguished from the issue facing the court
in Aguirre-Aguirre, what is the best interpretation of the term "serious nonpolitical crime" as used
within INA. Cf. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. at 448, 107 S.Ct. at 1221 (distinguishing between the
"narrow legal question" of whether the standards under INA §§ 243(h) and 208(a) are the same as
"well within the province of the judiciary" and "the question of interpretation" of some obviously
ambiguous term "which can only be given concrete meaning through a case-by-case adjudication"
and which is entitled to deference).
Accordingly, we REVERSE the district court's order denying Innab's petition for habeas corpus on
reconsideration of his petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to § 2241 in light of this opinion.