Legislación Judicial de Estados Unidos Estados Unidos
Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act
Fecha de aprobación 28 de marzo de 2012
PANAGIS VARTELAS, PETITIONER v. ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., ATTORNEY GENERALON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
[March 28, 2012]
JUSTICE GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.
Panagis Vartelas, a native of Greece, became a lawful permanent resident of the United States in 1989. He pleaded guilty to a felony (conspiring to make a counterfeit security) in 1994, and served a prison sentence of four months for that offense. Vartelas traveled to Greece in 2003 to visit his parents. On his return to the United States a week later, he was treated as an inadmissible alien and placed in removal proceedings. Under the law governing at the time of Vartelas’ plea, an alien in his situation could travel abroad for brief periods without jeopardizing his resident alien status. See 8 U. S. C. §1101(a)(13) (1988 ed.), as construed in Rosenberg v. Fleuti, 374 U. S. 449 (1963).
In 1996, Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), 110 Stat. 3009–546. That Act effectively precluded foreign travel by lawful permanent residents who had a conviction like Vartelas’. Under IIRIRA, such aliens, on return from a sojourn abroad, however brief, may be permanently removed from the United States. See 8 U. S. C.
2 VARTELAS v. HOLDER Opinion of the Court
This case presents a question of retroactivity not ad-
dressed by Congress: As to a lawful permanent resident convicted of a crime before the effective date of IIRIRA, which regime governs, the one in force at the time of the conviction, or IIRIRA? If the former, Vartelas’ brief trip abroad would not disturb his lawful permanent resi- dent status. If the latter, he may be denied reentry. We conclude that the relevant provision of IIRIRA, §1101(a)(13)(C)(v), attached a new disability (denial of reentry) in respect to past events (Vartelas’ pre-IIRIRA offense, plea, and conviction). Guided by the deeply rooted presumption against retroactive legislation, we hold that §1101(a)(13)(C)(v) does not apply to Vartelas’ conviction. The impact of Vartelas’ brief travel abroad on his per- manent resident status is therefore determined not by IIRIRA, but by the legal regime in force at the time of his conviction.
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