San Diego Law Review


Iris Gomez

Document Type



This Article explores Section 242B of the Immigration and Nationality Act, added by the Immigration Act of 1990. This provision stripped immigration judges of the discretion they had to determine whether a constitutionally required deportation hearing may take place in the alien's absence. The author examines three major issues of statutory interpretation that determine the extent of the hardships that this law may thrust upon aliens. These issues are: (1) the scope of the limits on the ability to rescind a deportation order made in the alien's absence, (2) the scope of the five-year disqualification provision which is triggered by nonappearance at a hearing, and (3) the meaning of the "exceptional circumstances" standard which excuses nonappearance at a hearing. The author finds deficiencies in the practical impact of these provisions, and recognizes theoretical difficulties underlying implementation.