INS V. MIRANDA, 459 U. S. 14 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

INS v. Miranda, 459 U.S. 14 (1982)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Miranda

No. 82-29

Decided November 8, 1982

459 U.S. 14


While in the United States after the expiration of his temporary visitor's visa, respondent alien married a United States citizen. His wife filed a petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), requesting that he be granted an immigrant visa as her spouse, and respondent simultaneously applied to the INS for adjustment of his status to that of a permanent resident alien. The wife's petition, if approved, would have satisfied § 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which conditions the granting of permanent resident status to an alien on the immediate availability of an immigrant visa. The INS did not act on either the wife's petition or respondent's application for 18 months, and when the marriage broke up, the wife withdrew her petition. The INS then denied respondent's application because an immigrant visa was not immediately available to him. In subsequent administrative deportation proceedings, the INS rejected respondent's claims that his previous marriage was sufficient to support his application for permanent resident status, and that the INS was estopped from denying his application because of its "unreasonable delay." Respondent sought review of the administrative decision in the Court of Appeals, which ultimately reversed, holding that the INS's unexplained 18-month delay in processing respondent's application was "affirmative misconduct" that estopped the Government from denying the application.

Held: Regardless of whether or not even "affirmative misconduct" will estop the Government from enforcing the immigration laws, the evidence here did not rise to that level. Respondent showed only that the Government failed to process his application promptly. Even if the INS arguably was negligent in not acting more expeditiously, neither such conduct nor the harm to respondent was sufficient to estop the Government. Cf. Montana v. Kennedy, 366 U. S. 308; INS v. Hibi, 414 U. S. 5; Schweiker v. Hansen, 450 U. S. 785.

Certiorari granted; 673 F.2d 1105, reversed.

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