Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee decision upheld and broadly interpreted a federal statute that severely restricted the rights of alien residents to challenge deportation orders in court, even in cases when the defendants claim a violation of their constitutional rights.

The U.S. government characterized the Popular Front for the Liberation of PalestinePopular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as an international terrorist organization. In 1987, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) ordered the deportation of eight resident aliens who were members of the PFLP, even though none of the eight had been accused of committing a criminal act. In response, they filed suit, alleging that Attorney General Reno, JanetJanet Reno and other federal officials had targeted them for deportation because of their political opinions and political affiliation–a violation of the freedoms protected by the [a]First AmendmentFirst Amendment. In 1996, while the case was still being adjudicated in the lower courts, Congress enacted the [a]Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which eliminated judicial review of the Justice Department’s deportation proceedings against several classes of aliens.[c]Reno v. American-Arab Anti-DiscriminationCommitteeArab immigrants;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination CommitteeDeportation;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination CommitteeAmerican-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee[American Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee][c]Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination CommitteeArab immigrants;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination CommitteeDeportation;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination CommitteeAmerican-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee[American Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee][cat]COURT CASES;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee[cat]DEPORTATION;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Based on the new law, Reno filed a motion asserting that the federal courts no longer had jurisdiction to review the validity of the selective enforcement claim. Both the district court and the court of appeals rejected the motion. By an 8-1 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed these rulings and upheld Reno’s motion. In the majority opinion, Justice Scalia, AntoninAntonin Scalia wrote that “an alien unlawfully in this country has no constitutional right to assert selective enforcement as a defense against his deportation.” In a strong dissent, Justice Souter, DavidDavid Souter argued that a complete preclusion of judicial review would “raise the serious constitutional question of whether Congress may block every remedy for enforcing a constitutional right.” In subsequent cases, the application of the IIRIRA has continued to be controversial.[c]Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination CommitteeArab immigrants;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination CommitteeDeportation;Reno v. American-Arab Anti-DiscriminationCommitteeAmerican-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee[American Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee]

Further Reading
  • Kanstroom, Daniel. Deportation Nation: Outsiders in American History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007.
  • Miyamoto, Maryam K. “The First Amendment After Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: A Different Bill of Rights for Aliens?” Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 35 (Winter, 2000): 183-224.

Arab immigrants

Congress, U.S.

Deportation

Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996

Supreme Court, U.S.

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