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NARENJI v. CIVILETTI

December 11, 1979

Gholamreza NARENJI et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Benjamin CIVILETTI et al., Defendants; CONFEDERATION OF IRANIAN STUDENTS, Plaintiff, v. Benjamin R. CIVILETTI, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The Court is asked to determine whether 8 C.F.R. § 214.5, Reprinted in 44 Fed.Reg. 65,727 (1979), which requires that by December 14, 1979, all Iranian nonimmigrant postsecondary students report to the nearest Immigration and Naturalization Service office for identification and examination of status, was validly promulgated within the authority bestowed upon the executive branch by statute and the Constitution.

 The cases of Narenji v. Civiletti, Civ.No. 79-3189 (D.D.C. filed Nov. 21, 1979), and Confederation of Iranian Students v. Civiletti, Civ. No. 79-3210 (D.D.C. filed Nov. 27, 1979), were consolidated on November 27, 1979, Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a), with a full hearing on the merits held December 4, 1979. Narenji has been filed as a class action *fn1" by three nonimmigrant students from the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of all Iranians admitted to the United States as nonimmigrant students and affected by the questioned regulation. Plaintiffs ask for declaratory and injunctive relief against Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti and Acting Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization David Crosland, seeking both a declaration that 8 C.F.R. § 214.5 is unconstitutional and an injunction against its enforcement. Section 214.5, which is set forth fully in appendix A of this memorandum opinion, is an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) regulation that requires all Iranian nonimmigrant students to report to INS by December 14, 1979, with evidence of their current status. Plaintiff Confederation of Iranian Students, with approximately 1500 members, also seeks a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief *fn2" against Attorney General Civiletti in regard to the same regulation, praying further that requests for discretionary relief made by Iranian students be treated similarly to those made by nonimmigrant students of other nationalities and that no Iranian student who has reported to INS since November 13, 1979, in compliance with the regulation or who was subject to this regulation, be deported.

 This cause must be viewed in light of what has come to be recognized as an unprecedented violation of international law, overwhelmingly condemned, which commenced almost six weeks ago and which breached the absolute principle that the personnel and property of a diplomatic mission are inviolate.

 The hostages' captors, estimated to number from three to four hundred within the embassy compound, have threatened to kill the hostages if there is any attempt to free them. Id. Demonstrations outside the compound have been held on almost a daily basis and at times have involved tens of thousands of demonstrators. Id.

 Despite its commitment to do so, the government of Iran has failed to take action to protect the embassy or its personnel. Id. P 3. Following the embassy takeover, the Prime Minister and a large number of cabinet officers resigned. Id. A new cabinet has been named, but the successor government has been unwilling to secure the safe release of all hostages or to meet with the United States' emissaries dispatched to secure the release of the hostages. Id. The students inside the compound have rigidly refused to moderate their demands. Id.

 The violent actions in Iran have not only outraged all Americans, but have been universally condemned by other nations throughout the world. While a United Nations Security Council meeting convened to help negotiate a release of the hostages proved fruitless because of the refusal of Iran to participate, the President of the council has made public statements on behalf of its members, appealing for the immediate release of all hostages.

 During the crisis, the President has conferred daily, and often several times a day, with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and other senior officials of the Administration. Id. P 5. Recognizing the growing anger among our citizens, the President issued a statement to the nation on November 9, 1979, urging all public officials and private citizens to exercise restraint and appealing to "every American to refrain from any action that might increase the danger to the American hostages (in Tehran)." White House Statement on American Hostages in Iran, 15 Weekly Comp. of Pres. Doc. 2101, 2102 (Nov. 9, 1979).

 As the grave situation continued to escalate with increasing threats by the Iranian captors and a mounting clamor echoing from the demonstrators outside our embassy in Tehran, President Carter on November 10, 1979, directed the Attorney General to "identify any Iranian Students in the United States who are not in compliance with the terms of their entry visas, and to take the necessary steps to commence deportation proceedings against those who have violated applicable immigration laws and regulations." Announcement on Actions To Be Taken by the Department of Justice, 15 Weekly Comp. of Pres. Doc. 2107, 2107 (Nov. 10, 1979); Christopher Declaration P 6. This directive was one of several measures taken in response to the grave international crisis created by the detention of the American hostages. Others have included presidential orders that oil produced in Iran not enter the United States, Pres. Proc. No. 4702, 44 Fed.Reg. 65,581 (1979), and that, a national emergency existing, the assets of Iran located in this country be frozen, Exec. Order No. 12,170, 44 Fed.Reg. 65,729 (1979). Throughout, the President has emphasized the gravity of the crisis and commented on the necessity for Americans to maintain constraint, despite the intensity of emotion. On November 13, 1979, in response to the President's November 10 directive and acting, as expressed, pursuant to his powers under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1103(a), 1184(a) (1976), the Attorney General issued the challenged regulation, 8 C.F.R. § 214.5, to be effective immediately and to be applicable only to Iranian students. *fn3" The regulation directs Iranian nonimmigrant postsecondary students to report to INS by December 14, 1979, with evidence of their residence and student status, including their passport, a letter of good-standing from their school, and evidence of their current address. Failure to comply or willfully supplying false information would subject such students to immediate deportation proceedings. The notice and comment and delayed effective date provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 553 specifically were waived in the announcement concerning the regulation as being impracticable and contrary to the public interest.

 The Narenji plaintiffs' main challenge to the regulation is that it is violative of the fifth amendment because defendants have singled out only Iranian students. They claim that this constitutes discrimination on the basis of national origin, a suspect class, requiring strict judicial scrutiny and a compelling governmental objective in order to pass constitutional muster. Those plaintiffs also contend, however, that the regulation violates the fourth amendment because the "compelled interrogation" by INS officials constitutes an illegal seizure in that INS has no reasonable grounds to suspect that a particular Iranian student may have violated the conditions of his or her nonimmigrant status. Further, plaintiffs in Narenji claim section 214.5 violates the first amendment, alleging that the primary purpose of the regulation at issue was both to punish Iranian students in the United States for past demonstrations and to chill the future exercise of their rights of speech, association, and assembly. An additional cause of action in plaintiffs' amended complaint asserts defendants' failure to comply with the notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 553, and the lack of statutory authority for the regulation. Plaintiff Confederation of Iranian Students similarly challenges the issuance of the regulation as violative of the Administrative Procedure Act in that the notice and comment procedure was improperly waived and because the Attorney General exceeded the authority vested in him under the Immigration and Nationality Act. That plaintiff also alleges defendant Civiletti's action violates tenets of international law and the first and fifth amendments.

 Addressing these allegations of invalidity, defendants contend that the waiver of notice and comment was appropriate, as were the terms of the regulation itself, which, they say, were proper under the authority given to the Attorney General pursuant to section 1103(a) of title 8, which gives the Attorney General the power to administer and enforce all laws relating to alien immigration and naturalization, and 8 U.S.C. § 1184(a), which prescribes the power of the Attorney General to issue regulations to govern the admission of nonimmigrant aliens and to insure the departure of those individuals who violate the terms of their nonimmigrant status. Defendants also assert that the regulations cannot be found to violate the fifth amendment in that the foreign policy determinations of the President and the Attorney General are not subject to judicial review, and, in any event, any discrimination involved is justified by compelling governmental objectives. Further, they contend that there has been no fourth amendment violation in that no "seizure" of the students has occurred and that the failure of plaintiffs to show any impermissibly selective enforcement of the regulation dooms their claim that the first amendment has been violated.

 It being established that matters of constitutional import should be reached only if no other disabling defect can be discovered in a challenged statute or regulation, we must consider initially plaintiffs' assertions regarding the supposed nonconstitutional grounds for section 214.5's invalidity.

 The first of these is their charge that the rule should be declared void because the Attorney General has not complied with the "notice and comment" provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 553(b)(B), which require that notice of a proposed regulation and time for comment on its contents be afforded the public unless there is an agency finding that good cause exists for waiver of the requirement because such a procedure would be "impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest." To justify the waiver of notice and comment on the basis that it would be "impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest," the instant regulation states that it was "issued in the course of, and in response to, the international crisis created by the unlawful detention of American citizens in Tehran." Nevertheless, plaintiffs argue that the Court should find the waiver improper since defendants' general invocation of the Iranian crisis does not explain precisely why it is impracticable or contrary to the public interest to comply with the notice and comment requirement.

 Defendants counter that these regulations were the result of rulemaking involving a "foreign affairs function of the United States" and thus are exempt from the notice and comment requirements under section 553(a)(1) of title 5 and that the reasons given in the regulation are sufficient to support its exemption from the provisions for notice and comment. As to the former argument, although a foreign event may have provoked the promulgation of section 214.5, this in and of itself cannot exempt it from the Administrative Procedure Act, especially in light of the recognized application of the APA to deportation proceedings, Wong Yang Sung v. McGrath, 339 U.S. 33, 51, 70 S. Ct. 445, 94 L. Ed. 616 (1950). While the Supreme Court's ruling in that instance subsequently was legislatively overruled, Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1951, Pub.L. No. 81-843, 64 Stat. 1048, there was no indication by Congress that its action was motivated by any intent to reassert a foreign affairs exemption. Hou Ching Chow v. Attorney General, 362 F. Supp. 1288, 1290 & n.7 (D.D.C.1973). The validity of the theory of Wong Yang Sung therefore endures and will not allow the executive to invoke the foreign affairs exemption to control a matter that essentially involves naturalization and deportation. Id. at 1290.

 Turning then to an examination of the rationale given in the regulation itself for its exemption from the notice and comment requirement, while the reasons expressed are perhaps not as explicit as they might have been, they nonetheless are sufficiently set forth to demonstrate that good cause for a waiver existed. Assuming for the moment that the regulation at issue is valid, certainly any delay in its promulgation and effective date would proportionately weaken any effect it might have upon the grave crisis that triggered its creation, thereby rendering the notice and comment requirement impracticable and contrary to the public interest. See DeRieux v. Five Smiths, Inc., 499 F.2d 1321, 1332 (Temp.Emer.Ct.App.), Cert. denied, 419 U.S. 896, 95 S. Ct. 176, 42 L. Ed. 2d 141 (1974). Defendants' waiver of notice and comment was not in violation of section 553(b)(B).

 Plaintiffs also challenge the validity of certain specific provisions of section 214.5, to wit, its requirement that when reporting, Iranian students must bring their passport and Form I-94 alien registration statement, evidence of enrollment from their school, a letter from school officials showing they are maintaining the proper number of credit hours, and evidence of current address, 8 C.F.R. § 214.5(a)(1)-(5), as well as its statement that failure to appear will constitute a violation of the conditions of the students' stay, subjecting them to deportation proceedings. Putting aside the constitutional issues involved in the enforcement of section 214.5, the Court finds its requirements and conditions to be proper as within the latitude given the executive under section 1184(a) "to insure that . . . upon failure to maintain status under which he was admitted . . . such alien will depart from the United States." The various documents the students are required to bring obviously are relevant to the question of whether they are maintaining their status and, therefore, within the intent of Congress in this regard. The noncriminal, regulatory nature of immigration proceedings likely precludes any assertion that a constitutional violation might be thought to arise because of the compulsory production of the documents in question. See United States v. Campos-Serrano, 430 F.2d 173, 176 (7th Cir. 1970), Aff'd on other grounds, 404 U.S. 293, 92 S. Ct. 471, 30 L. Ed. 2d 457 (1971). Similarly, the requirement that failure to report will be considered a violation of status comes within the Attorney General's power to insure that nonimmigrant aliens who are out of status will leave this country. While it is quite unlikely, in light of the proalien, antideportation policy of Congress as recognized by the federal courts, that an inadvertent failure to appear would be held to be sufficient grounds for deportation, See Mashi v. INS, 585 F.2d 1309, 1315-17 & n.15 (5th Cir. 1978), the need to insure that those called will indeed respond obviously effectuates the congressional purpose inherent in section 1184(a). *fn4"

 Their nonconstitutional arguments failing, plaintiffs next rely on the due process clause of the fifth amendment, asserting that the regulation in question is unconstitutional because it constitutes a violation of that amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws. By focusing only upon those nonimmigrant students who are citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran, plaintiffs contend, the defendants have promulgated a regulation the effectiveness of which is dependent on the individual's national origin, an impermissible basis for such a rule.

 Plaintiffs are quite correct in their assertions that the classification in this instance is one founded upon national origin and that the constitutional guarantee of equal protection can be invoked in most circumstances to protect against the government's invocation of such a standard, even in its dealings with aliens. See Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 6 S. Ct. 1064, 30 L. Ed. 220 (1886). Further, it has been long acknowledged that distinctions based on ancestry or national origin are "odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality," Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81, 100, 63 S. Ct. 1375, 1385, 87 L. Ed. 1774 (1943); Accord, e.g., Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633, 644-46, 68 S. Ct. 269, 92 L. Ed. 249 (1948); Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 216, 65 S. Ct. 193, 89 L. Ed. 194 (1944), and will be cause to signal the type of strict judicial scrutiny afforded a "suspect" classification in order to determine whether it is proper as based upon a compelling governmental interest. *fn5"

 Acknowledging these established principles of constitutional law, defendants nonetheless seek to avoid their application by asserting that they simply are not relevant in this instance. In support of this theory, they point to what they claim is equally well-established precedent regarding the entitlement of the Congress and the executive to deal with the immigration and naturalization of aliens.

 The power of Congress over naturalization and immigration arises from clause 4 of section 8 of article 1 of the Constitution, which provides for congressional authority "(to) establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization . . . ." The United States Supreme Court has recognized that "as firmly imbedded in the legislative and judicial tissues of the body politic as any aspect of our government" is the principle that responsibility for the formulation of "policies pertaining to the entry of aliens and their right to remain here . . . is entrusted exclusively to Congress." Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 531, 74 S. Ct. 737, 743, 98 L. Ed. 911 (1954). It is not surprising then that the Supreme Court has also declared that "over no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete than it is over" the immigration and naturalization of aliens. Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Stranahan, 214 U.S. 320, 339, 29 S. Ct. 671, 676, 53 L. Ed. 1013 (1909); Accord, e.g., Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787, 792, 97 S. Ct. 1473, 52 L. Ed. 2d 50 (1977); Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, ...


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