ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT Court Below: 411 Fed. Appx. 121, 399 Fed. Appx. 313
Title 8 U. S. C. §1229b(a) authorizes the Attorney General to cancel the removal of an alien from the United States who, among other things, has held the status of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years, §1229b(a)(1), and has lived in the United States for at least seven continuous years after a lawful admission, §1229b(a)(2). These cases concern whether the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) should impute a parent's years of continuous residence or LPR status to his or her child. That issue arises because a child may enter the country lawfully, or may gain LPR status, after one of his parents does--meaning that a parent may satisfy §1229b(a)(1) or §1229b(a)(2), while his child, considered independently, does not. In In re Escobar, 24 I. & N. Dec. 231, the BIA concluded that an alien must meet §1229b(a)'s requirements on his own. But the Ninth Circuit found the Board's position unreasonable, holding that §1229b(a)(1) and §1229b(a)(2) require imputation. See Mercado-Zazueta v. Holder,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kagan
An immigration statute, 8 U. S. C. §1229b(a), authorizes the Attorney General to cancel the removal of an alien from the United States so long as the alien satisfies certain criteria. One of those criteria relates to the length of time an alien has lawfully resided in the United States, and another to the length of time he has held permanent resident status here. We consider whether the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) could reasonably conclude that an alien living in this country as a child must meet those requirements on his own, without counting a parent's years of residence or immigration status. We hold that the BIA's approach is based on a permissible construction of the statute.
The immigration laws have long given the Attorney General discretion to permit certain otherwise-removable aliens to remain in the United States. See Judulang v. Holder, 565 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 2-4). The Attorney General formerly exercised this authority by virtue of §212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 66 Stat. 187, 8 U. S. C. §1182(c) (1994 ed.), a provision with some lingering relevance here, see infra, at 7-9. But in 1996, Congress replaced §212(c) with §1229b(a) (2006 ed.). That new section, applicable to the cases before us, provides as follows:
"(a) Cancellation of removal for certain permanent residents
"The Attorney General may cancel removal in the case of an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien--
"(1) has been an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence for not less than 5 years, "(2) has resided in the United States continuously for 7 years after having been admitted in any status, and
"(3) has not been convicted of any aggravated felony." Ibid.
Section 1229b(a) thus specifies the criteria that make an alien eligible to obtain relief from the Attorney General. The first paragraph requires that the alien have held the status of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years. And the second adds that the alien must have lived in the United States for at least seven continuous years after a lawful admission, whether as ...