It is well-established law that when a federal court reviews a federal agency's construction of a statute it administers, the court will look to whether Congress has addressed the precise question at issue. If the court determines that Congress has not directly addressed the issue, rather than imposing its own construction of the statute, the court will defer to the administrative agency's permissible construction of the statute. This standard of review is called Chevron deference, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that articulated it. See Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 842 (1984). While application of Chevron deference frequently results in a decision upholding the agency's interpretation of its own statute, a recent decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates that when the agency's interpretation is unreasonable, its interpretation will not prevail.
In Amaya v. Rosen, No. 19-1619, 2021 WL 232554 (4th Cir. Jan. 25, 2021), a case that will be of interest to immigration practitioners specifically and administrative law practitioners generally—the Fourth Circuit held that even if Chevron deference applies to the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") decisions interpreting provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") on a case-by-case basis, the BIA's interpretation cannot be sustained if it is unreasonable.Read More