U.S. Supreme Court
Jay v. Boyd, 351 U.S. 345 (1956)
Jay v. Boyd
Argued May 3, 1956
Decided June 11, 1956
351 U.S. 345
An alien whose deportation had been ordered because admittedly, after entry, he had been a member of the Communist Party from 1935 through 1940 applied for suspension of his deportation under § 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which authorizes the Attorney General, "in his discretion," to suspend deportation of any deportable alien who meets certain statutory requirements relating to moral character, hardship, and period of residence in the United States. After administrative hearings not expressly required by statute but authorized by regulations of the Attorney General, a special inquiry officer found that the alien met the statutory prerequisites for the favorable exercise of discretionary relief, but denied relief because of confidential information not disclosed to the alien. The use of such confidential information without disclosure thereof to the applicant was expressly authorized by the regulations if "the disclosure of such information would be .prejudicial to the public interest, safety, or security."
Held: the Attorney General has properly exercised his discretionary powers under the statute in this case, and denial of the application is sustained. Pp. 351 U. S. 347-361.
(a) Under his rulemaking authority and as a matter of administrative convenience, the Attorney General validly delegated his authority to special inquiry officers with review by the Board of Immigration Appeals. P. 351, n 8.
(b) The regulation permitting consideration of confidential information not disclosed to the applicant is not inconsistent with § 244(a). Pp. 351 U. S. 352-356.
(c) Suspension of deportation is not a matter of right, but a matter of grace, like probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, and the applicant is not entitled to the kind of a hearing which contemplates full disclosure of the considerations entering into an exercise of the Attorney General's discretion. Pp. 351 U. S. 354-356.
(d) Section 244 (c), which requires the Attorney General to file with Congress "a complete and detailed statement of the facts" chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
regarding cases in which suspension is granted, with "the reasons for such suspension," is inapplicable to cases in which suspension is denied, and it affords no basis for a conclusion that an applicant must be apprised of reasons for a denial of his request for suspension. P. 351 U. S. 356.
(e) Section 235 (c), which specifically authorizes the Attorney General to determine, in some circumstances, that an alien is excludable "on the basis of information of a confidential nature," does not, by implication, prevent the use of confidential information in rulings upon applications for suspension of deportation. Pp. 351 U. S. 356-357.
(f) Though it is contended that, in construing the statute, all doubts should be resolved in the applicant's favor, because the use of such confidential information is inconsistent with the "tradition and principles of free government," and denial of suspension may lead to severe results, this Court must adopt the plain meaning of this statute. Pp. 351 U. S. 357-358.
(g) As here construed, § 244 is constitutional. P. 357, n 21.
(h) The regulation permits the use of undisclosed confidential information only when disclosure "would be prejudicial to the public interest, safety, or security," and this is a reasonable class of cases in which to exercise that power. P. 351 U. S. 358.
(i) Since the Board of Immigration Appeals, the District Court, and the Court of Appeals concluded, in effect, that the special inquiry officer found that disclosure of the confidential information in this case would have been contrary to the public interest, safety or security, this Court accepts that finding, and nothing more is required by the regulation. P. 358, n 22.
(j) In view of the gratuitous nature of the relief, the use of confidential information in a suspension of deportation proceeding is more clearly within statutory authority than the regulations sustained in Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U. S. 537, and Shaughnessy v. Mezei, 345 U. S. 206. Pp. 351 U. S. 358-359.
(k) The use of undisclosed confidential information as a basis for denying suspension of deportation did not transgress any of the related regulations governing suspension of deportation proceedings. Pp. 351 U. S. 359-361.