Answer: The REAL ID Act did not change the language of either subpart (i) or (ii) of the statute giving/denying review. Rather, the Act made two changes to the paragraph preceding these subparts. First, it specified that the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of law” applied to “statutory and nonstatutory” law and included the habeas corpus statute, the mandamus statute, and the All Writs Act. Second, the REAL ID Act also expanded the scope of § 242(a)(2)(B) so that it now applies “regardless of whether the [discretionary] judgment, decision, or action is made in removal proceedings.” Prior to the REAL ID Act, some – though not all – courts had held that § 242(a)(2)(B) was applicable only in removal cases. Presumably, this amendment was intended to reverse these earlier court decisions.
Question: Do these amendments eliminate all mandamus and other types of affirmative suits?
Answer: No, these changes do not eliminate all jurisdiction over mandamus and other affirmative lawsuits in non-removal cases. To determine whether jurisdiction remains available in a particular case, it is necessary to carry out a several step analysis. This analysis is essentially the same as the analysis to determine whether jurisdiction exists in a removal case involving agency discretion. Consequently, court decisions interpreting § 242(a)(2)(B) in the removal context will be helpful in determining whether the provision applies in a non-removal case.
Question: What steps are involved in determining whether a court has jurisdiction under § 242(a)(2)(B) in a removal or non-removal case?
Answer: There are several items that one must look at to determine if this section applies. 1. Does the issue/case fall completely outside the scope of INA § 242(a)(2)(B)? A. INA § 242(a)(2)(B) only limits jurisdiction over certain discretionary actions and decisions. B. INA § 242(a)(2)(B) does not apply to asylum decisions.
C. INA § 242(a)(2)(B) also does not apply to naturalization decisions and D. INA § 242(a)(2) should not apply to S, T and U visas.
Question: What if the case is one that appears to have fallen under the provision not permitting discretionary review?
Answer: Again, it is necessary to do an analysis. First, has there been an actual exercise of discretion? Even where there has been an actual exercise of discretion, is this exercise of discretion the issue in the case? Is the challenged action or decision discretionary? Is the decision or action specified by statute to be discretionary? Is the grant of discretion one of pure discretion unguided by legal principles? (9th Circuit cases.)
Thus, while the REAL ID Act may seem to completely limit judicial review of cases, if you fight the matter and analyze the case, there are different ways to still get judicial review of your case.