INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289, 9 (2001)

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Cite as: 533 U. S. 289 (2001)

Opinion of the Court

Three statutes enacted in recent years have reduced the size of the class of aliens eligible for such discretionary relief. In 1990, Congress amended 212(c) to preclude from discretionary relief anyone convicted of an aggravated felony who had served a term of imprisonment of at least five years. 511, 104 Stat. 5052 (amending 8 U. S. C. 1182(c)). In 1996, in 440(d) of AEDPA, Congress identified a broad set of offenses for which convictions would preclude such relief. See 110 Stat. 1277 (amending 8 U. S. C. 1182(c)).7 And finally, that same year, Congress passed IIRIRA. That statute, inter alia, repealed 212(c), see 304(b), 110 Stat. 3009-597, and replaced it with a new section that gives the Attorney General the authority to cancel removal for a narrow class of inadmissible or deportable aliens, see id., at 3009-594 (creating 8 U. S. C. 1229b (1994 ed., Supp. V)). So narrowed, that class does not include anyone previously "convicted of any aggravated felony." 1229b(a)(3) (1994 ed., Supp. V).

In the Attorney General's opinion, these amendments have entirely withdrawn his 212(c) authority to waive deportation for aliens previously convicted of aggravated felonies. Moreover, as a result of other amendments adopted in AEDPA and IIRIRA, the Attorney General also maintains that there is no judicial forum available to decide whether these statutes did, in fact, deprive him of the power to grant such relief. As we shall explain below, we disagree on both points. In our view, a federal court does have jurisdiction to decide the merits of the legal question, and

gest. In addition, the nature of the changes (bringing under the definition more minor crimes which may have been committed many years ago) suggests that an increased percentage of applicants will meet the stated criteria for 212(c) relief.

7 The new provision barred review for individuals ordered deported because of a conviction for an aggravated felony, for a drug conviction, for certain weapons or national security violations, and for multiple convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude. See 110 Stat. 1277.

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