Fernandez-Vargas v. Gonzales
Reviewing whether a provision of the 1996 Immigration Act applies retroactively to limit the discretionary relief available to individuals who re-entered the country illegally after their deportation but before the Act's passage. DECIDED
Prior to 1996, individuals who re-entered the country illegally after having been deported were still eligible to apply for discretionary relief that would allow them to remain in the country under certain circumstances. Congress eliminated that opportunity in 1996 when it substantially revised the immigration laws. The question in this case is which set of rules apply to someone who re-entered the country illegally before 1996 but applied for discretionary relief after 1996. Joining with numerous other immigration organizations, the ACLU argues in its amicus brief that the new rules only apply to persons who re-entered after 1996 under the Supreme Court's well-established test for determining whether a statute applies retroactively.