Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 95cv01851)
Before: Edwards, Chief Judge, Wald and Tatel, Circuit Judges.
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Opinion for the Court filed by Chief Judge Edwards.
Appellee Marlena Ramallo, a native of Bolivia, entered the United States in 1972; she became a lawful permanent resident in 1978. In August 1986, Ramallo pled guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine and thereafter served 5«months in prison.
In November 1986, due to her criminal conviction, the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") initiated deportation proceedings against Ramallo. During the course of these proceedings, the Government and Ramallo entered into an agreement, the terms of which are disputed. Ramallo claims that, in return for her cooperation in prosecuting drug traffickers and her waiver of objections to her deportability, the Government agreed not to deport her and to restore her status as a lawful permanent resident. In compliance with her understanding of the agreement, Ramallo withdrew her objection to deportability in the deportation proceedings. A deportation order was subsequently issued by an Immigration Judge. When the Government later attempted to execute the deportation order, Ramallo filed suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking enforcement of the agreement to restore her status as a lawful permanent resident. The District Court entered judgment in favor of Ramallo.
On appeal, the Government claims that, at the time it ruled on this case, the District Court had no jurisdiction to consider Ramallo's claims. Due to recent legislative developments, we need not decide this issue. Subsequent to the District Court's judgment, Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 ("IIRIRA"), amending section 242 of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"). The IIRIRA undisputably deprives both district courts and courts of appeals of jurisdiction to hear this case.
As it is clear that this court lacks appellate jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case, a question remains as to the continuing validity of the District Court's judgment. In other words, because this court has no authority to review a matter of the sort here in issue, does the judgment of the District Court stand immune to challenge? We think not. We find that, in enacting the IIRIRA, Congress intended a pragmatic approach, leaving this court with residual jurisdiction to clear the decks of pending cases covered by the new statute. Accordingly, we find that IIRIRA grants us jurisdiction to vacate the District Court's judgment and remand with a direction to dismiss appellee's present claim before the court.
Appellee Marlena Ramallo, a native of Bolivia, came to the United States in 1972 and became a lawful permanent resident in 1978. Ramallo was arrested in 1986 and, on August 1, 1986, she pled guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section(s) 963. As part of a plea agreement, she agreed to cooperate with officials of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") in their investigations of unlawful drug trafficking. Ramallo served 5« months in prison on her drug conviction.
On November 21, 1986, the INS initiated proceedings to deport Ramallo, issuing an Order to Show Cause, in which it charged that Ramallo was subject to deportation due to her criminal conviction. Appellee's initial deportation hearing took place on February 25, 1987. After two continuances, Ramallo began to present evidence on April 6, 1988. After the April 6 hearing was adjourned, proceedings did not reconvene until May 10, 1988.
At the May 10 hearing, during a recess, an INS trial attorney, a DEA agent, Ramallo's attorney, and Ramallo met. At the meeting, the parties formed an agreement, the terms of which are now substantially disputed. The Government asserts that it agreed not to deport Ramallo for the period it would take for her to cooperate with law enforcement authorities; Ramallo contends that, in return for her cooperation, the Government agreed not to deport her at all and to restore her status as a lawful permanent resident. It is undisputed that, as a result of the meeting, Ramallo agreed (1) to cooperate with the DEA and the United States Attorney's Office in the investigation and prosecution of drug traffickers, (2) to concede that she was subject to deportation, (3) to withdraw her application for a waiver of deportation pursuant to section 212(c) of the INA, and ...