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

Docket Nº:93-1514.
Citation:15 F.3d 193
Party Name:Acquiles Leonidas CABRAL, Petitioner, v. IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, Respondent.
Case Date:January 31, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 193

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

Acquiles Leonidas CABRAL, Petitioner,



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.



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

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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.



  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...

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