15 F.3d 193 (1st Cir. 1994), 93-1514, Cabral v. I.N.S.

Docket Nº93-1514.
Citation15 F.3d 193
Party NameAcquiles Leonidas CABRAL, Petitioner, v. IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, Respondent.
Case DateJanuary 31, 1994
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)

Page 193

15 F.3d 193 (1st Cir. 1994)

Acquiles Leonidas CABRAL, Petitioner,

v.

IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, Respondent.

No. 93-1514.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

January 31, 1994

Heard Nov. 4, 1993.

Randy Olen, Johnston, RI, for petitioner.

William C. Lengacher, Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, with whom Frank W. Hunger, Assistant Attorney General, and Richard M. Evans, Assistant Director, Washington, DC, were on brief for respondent.

Before SELYA, CYR and STAHL, Circuit Judges.

CYR, Circuit Judge.

After Acquiles Leonidas Cabral was convicted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an accessory to murder, he was ordered deported for committing a "crime involving moral turpitude" within five years of his lawful entry into the United States. We deny his petition for review of the final order of deportation.

I

BACKGROUND

A citizen of the Dominican Republic, Cabral was allowed to enter the United States as a resident alien on July 21, 1983. On December 14, 1984, he was charged with murder after the Boston police stopped a van containing Cabral, two other men, and a corpse wrapped in a carpet. Cabral later pled guilty as an accessory after the fact to murder, see Mass.Gen.Laws ch. 274, Sec. 4 (1990), and received a four-to-seven year prison term. 1 During the deportation proceedings which followed, Cabral contended, as he does now, that the crime of accessory after the fact to murder is not a "crime

Page 194

involving moral turpitude" (or "CIMT") within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1251(a)(4). 2 An Immigration Judge (IJ) found that Cabral's conviction as an accessory after the fact to the voluntary murder charged in the Massachusetts indictment established that Cabral was an accessory to a CIMT. See In re Sanchez-Marin, 11 I. & N.Dec. 264 (BIA1965). The IJ accordingly ordered deportation under section 1251(a)(4). The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the order of deportation, and Cabral petitioned for review.

II

DISCUSSION

  1. Standard of Review

    As the petition for review presents a pure issue of statutory construction, we review de novo, according due deference to the BIA's interpretation of the deportation statute. Mosquera-Perez v. INS, 3 F.3d 553, 554 (1st Cir.1993). See Jaramillo v. INS, 1 F.3d 1149, 1153 (11th Cir.1993); see also INS v. Jong Ha Wang, 450 U.S. 139, 101 S.Ct. 1027, 67 L.Ed.2d 123 (1981) (per curiam) (pre-Chevron case overturning court of appeals' decision reversing "reasonable" INS interpretation of statute). We look first to the language of the statute itself, employing traditional tools of statutory construction, see Mosquera-Perez, 3 F.3d at 554-55, to see if the legislative intent is clear, Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842, 104 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 81 L.Ed.2d 694 (1984). We look to the legislative history only if "the literal words of the statute create ambiguity or lead to an unreasonable interpretation." United States v. Charles George Trucking Co., 823 F.2d 685, 688 (1st Cir.1987) (citation omitted). Where Congress has not spoken directly to the issue, the interpretation given by the BIA is entitled to deference unless arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute. See Mosquera-Perez, 3 F.3d at 555; see also Alvares-Flores v. INS, 909 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir.1990). In all events, as the final authority in matters of statutory interpretation, the courts " 'must reject administrative constructions which are contrary to clear congressional intent.' " Mosquera-Perez, 3 F.3d at 555 (quoting Chevron, 467 U.S. at 843 n. 9, 104 S.Ct. at 2782 n. 9).

  2. The Deportation Statute

    (i) The Statutory Language

    Section 1251(a)(4) itself states in relevant part:

    (a) General classes. Any alien in the United States ... shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be deported who--

    ....

    (4) is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years after entry and either sentenced to confinement or confined therefor in a prison or corrective institution, for a year or more....

    8 U.S.C. Sec. 1251(a)(4). All preconditions for deportation under section 1251(a)(4) are plainly met in the present case, save possibly the CIMT requirement. As to whether an accessory after the fact to murder has committed a CIMT, however, the language of the statute is silent. We therefore look to its legislative history.

    (ii) The Legislative History

    The available legislative history reveals that the term "moral turpitude" first appeared in the federal immigration laws in 1891. See S.Rep. No. 1515, 81st Cong., 2d Sess. 350 (1950); Charles Gordon, Immigration Law and Practice Sec. 71.05[a], 71-121 (Supp.1993). Justice Jackson offered the following insight into the legislative history of the Immigration Act of 1917, see S.Rep. No. 352, 64th Cong., 1st Sess. 390 (1916), the first to authorize deportation of resident aliens convicted of a "crime involving moral turpitude":

    The uncertainties of this statute do not originate in contrariety of judicial opinion. Congress knowingly conceived it in confusion. During the hearings of the House Committee on Immigration, out of which

    Page 195

    eventually came the Act of 1917 in controversy, clear warning of its deficiencies was sounded and never denied.

    "Mr. SABATH.... [Y]ou know that a crime involving moral turpitude has not been defined. No one can really say what is meant by saying a crime involving moral turpitude...."

    Despite this notice, Congress did not see fit to state what meaning it attributes to the phrase "crime involving moral turpitude."

    Jordan v. De George, 341 U.S. 223, 233-34, 71 S.Ct. 703, 709, 95 L.Ed. 886 (1951) (Jackson, J., dissenting) (quoting from House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization Hearings on H.R.Rep. No. 10384, 64th Cong., 1st Sess. 8 (1916)). 3 The legislative history leaves no doubt, therefore, that Congress left the term "crime involving moral turpitude" to future administrative and judicial interpretation.

  3. Reasonableness of Agency Interpretation

    Although voluntary murder is universally recognized as a CIMT, see, e.g., De Lucia v. Flagg, 297 F.2d 58, 61 (7th Cir.1961), cert. denied, 369 U.S. 837, 82 S.Ct. 867, 7 L.Ed.2d 843 (1962), the statutory language and the legislative history are silent as to whether an alien convicted as an accessory after the fact to voluntary murder has committed a CIMT. We therefore inquire whether the agency interpretation was arbitrary, capricious, or clearly contrary to the statute. See Mosquera-Perez, 3 F.3d at 555.

    We note first that the record establishes, as the IJ found, that Cabral pled guilty as an accessory to voluntary murder. The Massachusetts indictment, part of the record of conviction, see United States ex rel. Zaffarano v. Corsi, 63 F.2d 757, 759 (2d Cir.1933) (per curiam) (on rehearing) (holding that "the record of conviction ... mean[s] the charge (indictment), plea, verdict, and sentence"), alleged:

    JOHN DOE ... on or about December 14, 1984, did assault and beat one Nathan Lee Gales, with intent to murder him and by such assault and beating did kill and murder the said Nathan Lee Gales. And that,

    AQUILES [sic] CABRAL,

    afterwards, well knowing the said John Doe to have committed the felony aforesaid, did harbor, conceal, maintain and assist the said John Doe, with intent that said John Doe should avoid and escape detention, arrest, trial and punishment.

    (Emphasis added.) Under Massachusetts law, murder is defined as "the killing of a human being, with malice aforethought." Mass.Gen.L. ch. 277, Sec. 39 (1990). 4 As the IJ noted, federal courts uniformly have held that voluntary murder is a CIMT, see, e.g., Fong Haw Tan v. Phelan, 162 F.2d 663, 664 (9th Cir.1947), rev'd on other grounds, 333 U.S. 6, 68 S.Ct. 374, 92 L.Ed. 433 (1948); see also, e.g., In re...

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39 practice notes
  • 127 F.Supp.2d 392 (W.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CR-55, United States v. Brown
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Western District of New York
    • January 25, 2001
    ...legislative history sheds no light on Congress's intent." Michel v. I.N.S., 206 F.3d 253, 263 (2d Cir.2000) (citing Cabral v. I.N.S., 15 F.3d 193, 194-95 (1st Cir.1994)). Nevertheless, the Second Circuit has held that "corrupt scienter is the touchstone of moral turpitude." M......
  • 970 F.Supp. 1375 (N.D.Iowa 1997), C 96-4091, Doe v. Hartz
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit
    • June 23, 1997
    ...factual circumstances surrounding [the defendant's] crime." Franklin v. INS, 72 F.3d 571, 572 (8th Cir. 1995) (citing Cabral v. INS, 15 F.3d 193, 196 n. 5 (1st Cir. 1994), and Castle v. INS, 541 F.2d 1064, 1066 (4th Cir. 1976) (per curiam)), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 834, 117 S.Ct. 105, 1......
  • 358 F.Supp.2d 400 (D.N.J. 2005), Civ. 01-2120, United States v. Rebelo
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit District of New Jersey
    • March 2, 2005
    ...involving moral turpitude," evincing a Congressional intent to leave that term open to judicial interpretation. Cabral v. I.N.S., 15 F.3d 193, 194-95 (1st Cir. 1994). As it is typically understood, the term connotes "conduct that is inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to ......
  • United States v. Rebelo, 030305 NJDC, 01-2120 (HAA)
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit District of New Jersey
    • March 3, 2005
    ...involving moral turpitude, " evincing a Congressional intent to leave that term open to judicial interpretation. Cabral v. I.N.S., 15 F.3d 193, 194-95 (1st Cir. 1994). As it is typically understood, the term connotes "conduct that is inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
38 cases
  • 127 F.Supp.2d 392 (W.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CR-55, United States v. Brown
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • January 25, 2001
    ...legislative history sheds no light on Congress's intent." Michel v. I.N.S., 206 F.3d 253, 263 (2d Cir.2000) (citing Cabral v. I.N.S., 15 F.3d 193, 194-95 (1st Cir.1994)). Nevertheless, the Second Circuit has held that "corrupt scienter is the touchstone of moral turpitude." M......
  • 970 F.Supp. 1375 (N.D.Iowa 1997), C 96-4091, Doe v. Hartz
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit
    • June 23, 1997
    ...factual circumstances surrounding [the defendant's] crime." Franklin v. INS, 72 F.3d 571, 572 (8th Cir. 1995) (citing Cabral v. INS, 15 F.3d 193, 196 n. 5 (1st Cir. 1994), and Castle v. INS, 541 F.2d 1064, 1066 (4th Cir. 1976) (per curiam)), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 834, 117 S.Ct. 105, 1......
  • 358 F.Supp.2d 400 (D.N.J. 2005), Civ. 01-2120, United States v. Rebelo
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • March 2, 2005
    ...involving moral turpitude," evincing a Congressional intent to leave that term open to judicial interpretation. Cabral v. I.N.S., 15 F.3d 193, 194-95 (1st Cir. 1994). As it is typically understood, the term connotes "conduct that is inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to ......
  • 239 F.Supp.3d 234 (D.D.C. 2017), C. A. 16-0884 (ABJ), Earle v. Immigration and Naturalization Service
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Court, Federal Circuit
    • March 9, 2017
    ...for purposes of resolving the instant motion that petitioner's convictions qualify under the statute. See Cabral v. I.N.S., 15 F.3d 193, 195 (1st Cir. 1994) (noting that " voluntary murder is universally recognized as a [crime involving moral turpitude]" )......
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1 books & journal articles
  • SHOULD MISPRISION OF A FELONY BE CONSIDERED A CRIME INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE?
    • United States
    • September 22, 2018
    ...to state what meaning it attributes to the phrase 'crime involving moral turpitude.'"). (54) Cabral v. Immigr. Naturalization Serv., 15 F.3d 193, 195 (1st Cir. 1994). The Court ruled in De George that the term of "crime involving moral turpitude" is not void for vagueness. Se......