Jorge Baez-Sanchez v. Loretta Lynch
Filed opinion of the court by Judge Easterbrook. The petition for review is GRANTED, the Board s decision is VACATED, and the matter is REMANDED for proceedings consistent with this opinion. William J. Bauer, Circuit Judge; Frank H. Easterbrook, Circuit Judge and David F. Hamilton, Circuit Judge. [6874442-1]  [16-3784]
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS III, Attorney General of the United
Petition for Review of a Decision of the
Board of Immigration Appeals.
No. A206 017 181.
ARGUED SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 — DECIDED OCTOBER 6, 2017
Before BAUER, EASTERBROOK, and HAMILTON, Circuit
EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge. This proceeding begins
where L.D.G. v. Holder, 744 F.3d 1022 (7th Cir. 2014), ends.
We held in LDG that the Attorney General has authority un‐
der 8 U.S.C. §1182(d)(3)(A)(ii) to waive an alien’s inadmissi‐
bility—and thus to halt removal temporarily—while the al‐
ien requests a U visa from the Department of Homeland Se‐
curity. After Jorge Baez‐Sanchez requested that relief from an
immigration judge, however, the Board of Immigration Ap‐
peals held that IJs lack authority to grant such requests.
LDG addressed the question whether the Attorney Gen‐
eral has the authority to waive the inadmissibility of an alien
seeking a U visa. We assumed that, in removal proceedings,
IJs may exercise all of the Attorney General’s discretionary
powers over immigration. The panel did not justify that as‐
sumption, because the parties had not doubted its correct‐
ness. But after LDG the Board concluded that the assumption
is mistaken. In re Khan, 26 I&N Dec. 797 (2016), holds that IJs
have only such powers as have been delegated and that the
power to waive an alien’s inadmissibility during proceedings
seeking U visas is not among them. The Third Circuit has
agreed with that conclusion. Sunday v. Attorney General, 832
F.3d 211 (3d Cir. 2016). We must decide in this case whether
to follow Sunday and Khan.
Delegation from the Attorney General to immigration
judges is a matter of regulation, and arguably pertinent reg‐
ulations are scattered through Title 8 of the Code of Federal
Regulations. The BIA in Khan observed, correctly, that the
panel in LDG had not mentioned 8 C.F.R. §§ 235.2(d),
1235.2(d), which omit any delegation to IJs of the power to
waive an alien’s admissibility. And that’s true, for those regu‐
lations concern the powers of District Directors rather than
the powers of IJs. The principal regulation that does cover
IJs’ authority is 8 C.F.R. §1003.10, which provides in part:
(a) Appointment. The immigration judges are attorneys whom
the Attorney General appoints as administrative judges within
the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge to conduct specified
classes of proceedings, including hearings under section 240 of
the [Immigration and Nationality] Act. Immigration judges shall
act as the Attorney General’s delegates in the cases that come be‐
(b) Powers and duties. In conducting hearings under section 240
of the Act and such other proceedings the Attorney General may
assign to them, immigration judges shall exercise the powers
and duties delegated to them by the Act and by the Attorney
General through regulation. In deciding the individual cases be‐
fore them, and subject to the applicable governing standards,
immigration judges shall exercise their independent judgment
and discretion and may take any action consistent with their au‐
thorities under the Act and regulations that is appropriate and
necessary for the disposition of such cases. Immigration judges
shall administer oaths, receive evidence, and interrogate, exam‐
ine, and cross‐examine aliens and any witnesses. Subject to
§§ 1003.35 and 1287.4 of this chapter, they may issue administra‐
tive subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the presenta‐
tion of evidence. In all cases, immigration judges shall seek to re‐
solve the questions before them in a timely and impartial man‐
ner consistent with the Act and regulations.
The Attorney General’s brief in this court observes that
§1003.10(b) does not delegate to IJs any power to waive an
alien’s inadmissibility. Sure enough, it doesn’t. But
§1003.10(a) does. It says that “[i]mmigration judges shall act
as the Attorney General’s delegates in the cases that come
before them.” This sounds like a declaration that IJs may ex‐
ercise all of the Attorney General’s powers “in the cases that
come before them”, unless some other regulation limits that
general delegation. The BIA in Khan did not identify any
provision that subtracts from the delegation in §1003.10(a).
Nor did the Third Circuit in Sunday. Indeed, neither the BIA
nor the Third Circuit cited §1003.10(a). We therefore adhere
to the view of LDG that IJs may exercise the Attorney Gen‐
eral’s powers over immigration.
Perhaps anticipating that we would reach this conclu‐
sion, the Attorney General’s brief makes a much broader ar‐
gument in defense of the BIA’s decision. The brief contends
that the Attorney General himself has no authority to grant
waivers of inadmissibility to aliens seeking U visas—and
that, if the Attorney General does possess this authority, it
may be used only with respect to aliens who seek that relief
before entering the United States. (Baez‐Sanchez was inside
our borders when he sought the waiver.)
The first of these arguments rests on 6 U.S.C. §§ 271(b)
and 557, which the Attorney General reads as transferring to
the Secretary of Homeland Security all of the Attorney Gen‐
eral’s discretionary powers under the immigration laws.
There are two problems with this contention.
First, §271(b) transfers only a particular set of powers,
and waivers of inadmissibility are not on its list. Section 557
does not independently transfer any powers; instead it de‐
pends for its effect on other statutes, regulations, and reor‐
ganization plans. Although the Department of Homeland
Security is principally responsible for administering the im‐
migration laws, whether the statutory power to waive an al‐
ien’s inadmissibility belongs exclusively to the Secretary of
Homeland Security depends on statutes, regulations, and
reorganization plans that the briefs do not address.
Second, the Board of Immigration Appeals did not rely
on §§ 271(b) or 557 in either Khan or its decision with respect
to Baez‐Sanchez. Instead the BIA assumed that the power to
waive an alien’s inadmissibility belongs to the Attorney Gen‐
eral. It is a fundamental principle of administrative law that
the validity of an agency’s decision depends on the agency’s
reasoning. See SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80, 87–88 (1943).
Because the BIA has not made anything of §271(b), §557, or
any law, regulation, or reorganization plan that those two
statutes might implement, we cannot do so either. The sub‐
ject is open on remand, but it is not a ground on which the
current decision may be enforced.
The remaining contention—that the power to grant a
waiver of inadmissibility may be exercised only in favor of
an alien who has yet to enter the United States—was at least
hinted at by the Board. But the BIA did not rest its decision
on this ground. Immigration law has historically applied at
least some rules about “admissibility” to aliens already in
the United States, see In re Menendez, 12 I&N Dec. 291, 292
(1967); In re Sanchez Sosa, 25 I&N Dec. 807 (2012), and the
Secretary of Homeland Security seems to believe that he has
the authority to grant waivers of inadmissibility under
§1182(d)(3)(A)(ii) to aliens in the United States. See 8 C.F.R.
§212.17. If the Secretary can do this, why not the Attorney
General? Perhaps neither official can do so, but Chenery pre‐
vents us from pursuing that question.
It should be clear from what we have said that the par‐
ties’ arguments about the effects of Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v.
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984),
and Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997), are premature. First
the Board must address and resolve the essential issues; only
then can we consider whether the disposition lies within the
scope of the agency’s discretion.
The Board is free to address all of these matters on re‐
mand, as it is also free to decide whether to exercise in favor
of, or against, Baez‐Sanchez whatever discretion the Attor‐
ney General possesses.
The petition for review is granted, the Board’s decision is
vacated, and the matter is remanded for proceedings con‐
sistent with this opinion.
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