Constitutional Law – Deportation – Use of Confidential Information in Denial of Discretionary Relief

Plaintiffs, husband and wife, were deportable aliens. At deportation hearings the plaintiffs asked the attorney general to grant discretionary suspension of deportation under section 19 (c) of the Immigration Act of 1917, as amended, which provided in part: “In the case of any alien … who is deportable … and who has proved good moral character for the preceeding five years, the attorney general may … (2) suspend deportation … if he finds (a) that such deportation would result in serious economic detriment to a citizen …. ” Plaintiffs had three children who were all American citizens. The hearing officer denied relief and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed, both on the basis of confidential information which was not disclosed to plaintiffs or put on the record. On a proceeding in a federal district court for declaratory judgment and review, held, remanded for further hearing. The use of confidential information is contrary to the applicable regulations and is without legislative sanction. Aliens within the country are entitled to a fair hearing in deportation proceedings and a decision based on confidential information is, or may be, arbitrary action by the government. Maeztu v. Brownell, (D.C. D.C. 1955) 132 F. Supp. 751.