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Facing deportation, one immigrant took his case to SCOTUS – and won (Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha)

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Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983), is a pivotal case construing the doctrine of separation of powers.

In the years before Chadha, Congress had often made use of the one-house legislative veto to give itself an additional check on the administrative agencies to which it had delegated power. The Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 244(c)(2), contained one such provision, which allowed the House of Representatives to override deportation recommendations from the United States Attorney General.

The House of Representatives exercised its legislative veto to reject the attorney general’s recommendation in the case of a man named Jagdish Rai Chadha. Chadha had entered the United States legally, but remained after the expiration of his visa. After an immigration judge ordered Chadha deported, the attorney general recommended that the deportation be suspended.

When Congress rejected the recommendation, Chadha sued, challenging the constitutionality of the one-house legislative veto. The United States Supreme Court struck down the one-house legislative veto as a violation of the bicameral and presentment requirements of the Constitution.

To satisfy the bicameral requirement, legislation must pass both houses of Congress. To satisfy the presentment requirement, legislation must be presented to the president for a signature or veto before becoming law.

Because the one-house legislative veto met neither requirement, the Court declared it unconstitutional.

Chadha became a U.S. citizen in April 1984.

 

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