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IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE v. HECTOR

decided: November 17, 1986.

IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
v.
HECTOR



ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 479 U.S. Page 86]

Virginia Hector, a native and citizen of Dominica, West Indies, entered the United States in April 1975 as a nonimmigrant visitor for pleasure. She has remained in this country illegally since April 30, 1975, when her authorization to stay expired. The youngest of her four children, a 10-year-old boy, resides with her here; the other three children live with their grandparents in Dominica. In 1983, two of Hector's nieces, United States citizens aged 10 and 11, came to live with her in order to attend school in what their parents perceived to be a superior educational system. The nieces' parents continue to reside in Dominica.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) instituted deportation proceedings against Hector in July 1983. She conceded deportability, but applied for suspension of deportation pursuant to § 244(a)(1) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (Act), 66 Stat. 214, as amended, 8 U. S. C. § 1254(a)(1). That section authorizes the Attorney General, in his discretion, to suspend deportation of an illegal alien, and to adjust the alien's status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, if the deportable alien

 "has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than seven years immediately preceding the date of . . . application, and proves that during all of such period he was and is a person of good moral character; and is a person whose deportation would, in the opinion of the Attorney General, result in extreme hardship to the alien or to his spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence."

An Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) found that Hector satisfied the first two statutory elements -- continuous physical residence and good moral character -- but that she could not demonstrate extreme hardship

[ 479 U.S. Page 87]

     to herself, or to her "spouse, parent, or child." With respect to her nieces, the Board determined that, as a factual matter, Hector's separation from them would not constitute extreme hardship to herself;*fn1 as a legal matter, the Board concluded that a niece is not a "child" within the meaning of § 244(a)(1).

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted Hector's petition for review and remanded the case to the Board. 782 F.2d 1028 (1986). The court held that the Board had erred in not giving sufficient consideration to whether Hector's relationship with her nieces was the functional equivalent of a parent-child relationship. The court thus instructed the Board to ascertain whether there was a parental-type relationship, and, if so, to determine whether Hector's nieces would experience extreme hardship as a result of her deportation.*fn2

In so holding, the court relied on its earlier decision in Tovar v. INS, 612 F.2d 794 (1980), which held that the term "child" as used in § 244(a)(1) includes individuals who do not fit within the statutory definition of "child" set out in § 101(b)(1), 8 U. S. C. § 1101(b)(1), if their relationship with

[ 479 U.S. Page 88]

     the deportable alien closely resembles that of a parent and child.*fn3

Because we find the plain language of the statute so compelling, we reverse, and hold that the Board is not required under § 244(a)(1) to consider the hardship to a third party other than a spouse, parent, or child, as defined by the Act. Congress has specifically identified the relatives whose hardship is to be considered, and then set forth unusually detailed and unyielding provisions defining each class of included relatives.*fn4 ...


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