§ 16.38 D. All Reasonable Doubts Favor the Noncitizen
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The rules of statutory construction, in immigration cases, require the court to grant immigrants the benefit of all reasonable doubts, both of fact and law, in interpretation of the immigration statutes and regulations, because of the drastic, penal consequences of deportation. Reiterating this principle, Chief Justice Warren has written, “Although not penal in character, deportation statutes as a practical matter may inflict ‘the equivalent of banishment or exile,’ . . . and should be strictly construed.” The Ninth Circuit expressed awareness of this principle, saying, “We are aware, too, that matters of doubt should be resolved in favor of the alien in deportation proceedings, because of the severity of the remedy invoked.”
The courts must narrowly construe deportation statutes in favor of the noncitizen. If the statute and judicial decisions defining the offense leave its nature ambiguous, all reasonable doubts must be construed in favor of the noncitizen. However, the courts have viewed the applicability of the rule of lenity narrowly:
Lisbey also asks us to conclude that § 16 is ambiguous and to apply the rule of lenity to construe the ambiguities in favor of the petitioner. See Leocal, 125 S.Ct. at 384. Courts should not deem a statute “ambiguous” for purposes of lenity merely because it is possible to articulate a construction more narrow than that urged by the Government. Moskal v. United States, 498 U.S. 103, 108, 111 S.Ct. 461, 112 L.Ed.2d 449 (1990). Instead, courts have “reserved lenity for those situations in which a reasonable doubt persists about a statute’s intended scope even after resort to the language and structure, legislative history, and motivating policies of the statute.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). This is not such a case. The meaning of this statute is clear.
The United States Supreme Court has recently suggested that the rule of lenity as applied to criminal proceedings should also apply to the immigration context when the issue concerns the interpretation of a criminal statute:
Even if § 16 lacked clarity on this point, we would be constrained to interpret any ambiguity in the statute in petitioner’s favor. Although here we deal with § 16 in the deportation context, § 16 is a criminal statute, and it has both criminal and noncriminal applications. Because we must interpret the statute consistently, whether we encounter its application in a criminal or noncriminal context, the rule of lenity applies. Cf. United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Co., 504 U.S. 505, 517-518, 112 S.Ct. 2102, 119 L.Ed.2d 308 (1992) (plurality opinion) (applying the rule of lenity to a tax statute, in a civil setting, because the statute had criminal applications and thus had to be interpreted consistently with its criminal applications).
Therefore, the noncitizen faced with a question of whether his or her conviction triggers removal as an aggravated felony should have the benefit of both the immigration and criminal rules of lenity.
 Esponda v. U.S. Att’y Gen., 453 F.3d 1319 (11th Cir. Jun. 28, 2006) (conflicting regulations should be resolved in the noncitizen’s favor).
 Fong Haw Tan v. Phelan, 333 U.S. 6, 10, 68 S.Ct. 374, 376 (1948).
 Barber v. Gonzales, 347 U.S. 637, 642, 74 S.Ct. 822, 825 (1954).
 Garcia-Gonzales v. INS, 344 F.2d 804 (9th Cir. 1965).
 Rosenberg v. Fleuti, 374 U.S. 449, 459 (1963); Bonetti v. Rogers, 356 U.S. 691, 699 (1958); Barber v. Gonzalez, 347 U.S. 637, 642-643 (1954); Fong Haw Tan v. Phelan, 333 U.S. 6, 10 (1948); Lennon v. INS, 527 F.2d 187, 193 (2d Cir. 1975); Matter of Chartier, 16 I. & N. Dec. 284, 287 (BIA 1977).
 John F. Decker, Addressing Vagueness: Ambiguity, and Other Uncertainty in American Criminal Laws, 80 Denver U. L. Rev. 241 (2002).
 Matter of H, 7 I. & N. Dec. 616 (BIA 1957). See also United States v. Orellana, 405 F.3d 360 (5th Cir. Apr. 5, 2005) (“Because we conclude that it is uncertain whether Congress intended to criminalize the possession of firearms by aliens in receipt of lawful temporary protected status, we apply the rule of lenity and reverse.”); Ablett v. Brownell, 240 F.2d 625 (D.C. Cir. 1957).
 Lisby v. Gonzalez, 420 F.3d 930 (9th Cir. 2005).
 Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1, 12 (Nov. 9, 2004).
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - RULE OF LENITY - AMBIGUITIES SHOULD BE INTERPRETED IN FAVOR OF THE IMMIGRANT
Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, 130 S.Ct 2577 (Jun. 14, 2010) ("Finally, as we noted in Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1, 11 n. 8, 125 S.Ct. 377, 160 L.Ed.2d 271 (2004), ambiguities in criminal statutes referenced in immigration laws should be construed in the noncitizen's favor. And here the critical language appears in a criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(2).")
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - RULE OF LENITY
United States v. Hayes, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1079 (Feb. 24, 2009) ("'[T]he touchstone of the rule of lenity is statutory ambiguity.' Bifulco v. United States, 447 U.S. 381, 387, 100 S.Ct. 2247, 65 L.Ed.2d 205 (1980) (internal quotation marks omitted). We apply the rule 'only when, after consulting traditional canons of statutory construction, we are left with an ambiguous statute.' United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10, 17, 115 S.Ct. 382, 130 L.Ed.2d 225 (1994). Section 921(a)(33)(A)'s definition of 'misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,' we acknowledge, is not a model of the careful drafter's art. See Barnes, 295 F.3d, at 1356. But neither is it 'grievous[ly] ambigu[ous].' Huddleston v. United States, 415 U.S. 814, 831, 94 S.Ct. 1262, 39 L.Ed.2d 782 (1974). The text, context, purpose, and what little there is of drafting history all point in the same direction . . . .").
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - RULE OF LENITY - LIMITATION TO AMBIGUOUS STATUTES
Burgess v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, ___ (Apr. 16, 2008) ("Burgess urges us to apply the rule of lenity in determining whether the term "felony drug offense" incorporates [21 U.S.C.] 802(13)'s definition of "felony." "[T]he touchstone of the rule of lenity is statutory ambiguity." Bifulco v. United States, 447 U.S. 381, 387, 100 S.Ct. 2247, 65 L.Ed.2d 205 (1980) (internal quotation marks omitted). "The rule comes into operation at the end of the process of construing what Congress has expressed," Callanan v. United States, 364 U.S. 587, 596, 81 S.Ct. 321, 5 L.Ed.2d 312 (1961), and "applies only when, after consulting traditional canons of statutory construction, we are left with an ambiguous statute," United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10, 17, 115 S.Ct. 382, 130 L.Ed.2d 225 (1994). Here, Congress expressly defined the term "felony drug offense." The definition is coherent, complete, and by all signs exclusive. Accordingly, there is no ambiguity for the rule of lenity to resolve.").
NATURE OF CONVICTION - RULE OF LENITY
Puello v. BCIS, 511 F.3d 324, ___ (2d Cir. Dec. 20, 2007) ("The rule of lenity, however, "only comes into play when a court after looking at all aids to legislative meaning can do no more than guess as to what Congress intended." United States v. Cullen, 499 F.3d 157, 164 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Muscarello v. United States, 524 U.S. 125, 138 (1998)). See also United States v. Hescorp,Heavy Equip. Sales Corp., 801 F.2d 70, 77 (2d Cir. 1986) (noting that the rule of lenity "is a doctrine of last resort, to be used only after the traditional means of interpreting authoritative texts have failed to dispel any ambiguities"). Because we have already determined that the plain meaning of the statute precludes Puellos interpretation, we need not resort to the rule of lenity.").
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - RULE OF LENITY - RULE OF LAST RESORT
Ruiz-Almanzar v. Ridge, 485 F.3d 193 (2d Cir. May 8, 2007) (rule of lenity in interpreting immigration statutes is a last resort, used only when the other rules of statutory construction leave a statute ambiguous; Chevron rule of deference can be used to interpret an ambiguous provision prior to using the rule of lenity).
Rodriguez v. Holder, 705 F.3d 207, (5th Cir. Jan. 16, 2013) (Section 16 has both criminal and noncriminal applications, and thus, the rule of lenity applies. We therefore are constrained to interpret any ambiguity in the statute in [Rodriguez's] favor.) (footnotes omitted); quoting Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1, 11 n. 8, 125 S.Ct. 377, 160 L.Ed.2d 271 (2004).
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION -- RULE OF LENITY
Martinez v. Mukasey, 519 F.3d 532 (5th Cir. Mar. 11, 2008) ("Here, defining "admitted", as used in 212(h), to exclude adjustment to LPR status subsequent to entry, as was done by Martinez, is bolstered by the "longstanding principle of construing any lingering ambiguities in deportation statutes in favor of the alien". Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. at 449, 107 S.Ct. 1207 (citations omitted). This canon of construction, comparable to the rule of lenity in criminal cases, is based on the drastic nature of removal. "We will not assume that Congress meant to trench on [the alien's] freedom beyond that which is required by the narrowest of several possible meanings of the words used." Fong Haw Tan v. Phelan, 333 U.S. 6, 10, 68 S.Ct. 374, 92 L.Ed. 433 (1948). Therefore, this rule of narrow construction provides an additional basis to construe 212(h) in favor of Martinez being able to seek a waiver of inadmissibility.").
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - RULE OF LENITY
Retuta v. Holder, 591 F.3d 1181 (9th Cir. Jan. 7, 2010) ("We would add, however, that if we were to view the statute as ambiguous, we would think it our duty to resolve the ambiguity favorably to the alien, pursuant to the principle of lenity applicable with respect to the gravity of removal. See I.N.S. v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421, 449 (1987); Lara-Cazares v. Gonzales, 408 F.3d 1217, 1221 (9th Cir.2005). Removal is a harsh sanction, and profoundly so when, as here, the alien came to America as a small child and has spent almost two decades in this country.").
RULE OF LENITY
The rule of lenity applies in criminal proceedings, while the "rule of narrow construction" applies in immigration proceedings. Each relates to construction of statutory provisions, and applies at different stages of the proceedings. See Benefit of the Lori Rosenberg, Doubt: The Survival of the Principle of Narrow Construction and its Current Applications, 8 BENDER'S IMMIGR. BULL. 1553 (Oct. 1, 2003).
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - RULE OF LENITY -- BIBLIOGRAPHY
Rosenberg, Benefit Of The Doubt: The Survival Of The Principle Of Narrow Construction And Its Current Applications, 8 BENDER'S IMMIGR. BULL. 1553 (2003).