San Diego Law Review


Eleanor Pelta

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



This Article examines the Supreme Court's holding in INS v. Phinpathya, in which it interpreted the seven-year continuous presence requirement for suspension of deportation as a condition that allows for no interruptions whatsoever. The author examines the holding in order to highlight the difficulties inherent in both literalist statutory interpretation and the use of `legislative intent." The author analyzes the legislative history of the suspension statute and the decision of the Court in Phinpathya, and concludes that the Court's approach drains the presence requirement of substantive policy content. The author then proposes an alternate mode of interpretation, which would enlarge the realm of sources upon which a court could draw in interpreting a statute, in order to determine and give actual effect to the statutory policy. The author also examines the future possibilities for interpretation of the presence requirement.