INS v. National Center for Immigrants' Rights, Inc., 502 U.S. 183, 7 (1991)

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Cite as: 502 U. S. 183 (1991)

Opinion of the Court


The threshold question in this case concerns interpretation of the regulation, which as the Government itself concedes, "is not unambiguous." Brief for Petitioners 23, n. 14. Indeed, as the dissenting judge in the Court of Appeals suggested, much of this controversy could have been avoided by a more precise drafting of the regulation, either initially or in response to any of the several lower court opinions. See 913 F. 2d, at 1375 (Trott, J., dissenting).

The most critical ambiguity in the regulation is whether the proposed no-work conditions bar all employment or only unauthorized employment—stated another way, whether such conditions will be imposed on all bonds or only on bonds issued for aliens who lack authorization to work. Although the relevant paragraph of the regulation is entitled "Condition against unauthorized employment," the text describes the restriction more broadly, as a "condition barring employment." Based in part on this latter phrase, the Court of Appeals interpreted the regulation as barring all employment, whether authorized or unauthorized. In contrast, the Government contends that the regulation only concerns the imposition of bond conditions in the case of aliens who lack work authorization in the first place.

We agree with the Government's interpretation of the regulation. In other contexts, we have stated that the title of a statute or section can aid in resolving an ambiguity in the legislation's text. See Mead Corp. v. Tilley, 490 U. S. 714, 723 (1989); FTC v. Mandel Bros., Inc., 359 U. S. 385, 388-389 (1959). Such analysis obtains in this case as well. The text's generic reference to "employment" should be read as a reference to the "unauthorized employment" identified in the paragraph's title. Moreover, an agency's reasonable,


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