Ardestani v. INS, 502 U.S. 129 (1991)

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OCTOBER TERM, 1991

Syllabus

ARDESTANI v. IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit

No. 90-1141. Argued October 8, 1991—Decided December 10, 1991

After petitioner Ardestani prevailed in an administrative deportation proceeding brought by respondent Immigration and Naturalization Service, an Immigration Judge awarded her attorney's fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which permits a prevailing party in an "adversary adjudication" before an administrative agency to recover fees from the Government, 5 U. S. C. 504(a)(1). The EAJA defines an "adversary adjudication," in relevant part, as "an adjudication under section 554 of [Title 5]," which is part of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). 504(b)(1)(C)(i). Section 554, in turn, applies, inter alia, to "every case of adjudication required by statute to be determined on the record after opportunity for an agency hearing." The Board of Immigration Appeals vacated and denied Ardestani's award on the ground that deportation proceedings are not within the EAJA's scope, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Administrative deportation proceedings are not adversary adjudications "under section 554" and thus do not fall within the category of proceedings for which the EAJA has waived sovereign immunity and authorized the award of attorney's fees and costs. Pp. 132-139. (a) Although immigration proceedings are required by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to be determined on the record after a hearing, 8 U. S. C. 1252(b), they are not governed by the APA. Marcello v. Bonds, 349 U. S. 302. It is immaterial that regulations have been promulgated conforming deportation hearings more closely to the procedures required for APA adjudications, for Marcello rests in large part on the INA's prescription that it "shall be the sole and exclusive procedure for determining [an alien's] deportability," 8 U. S. C. 1252(b) (emphasis added), and leaves open no possibility that the INA should be displaced by the APA if the regulations governing immigration proceedings become functionally equivalent to 554's procedures. Pp. 133-134. (b) The most natural reading of the EAJA's applicability to adjudications "under section 554," and that adopted by seven Courts of Appeals, is that those proceedings must be "subject to" or "governed by" 554.

129

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