Zone of Nondeference: Chevron and Deportation for a Crime

30 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2017 Last revised: 29 Aug 2018

See all articles by Rebecca Sharpless

Rebecca Sharpless

University of Miami - School of Law

Date Written: July 19, 2017


The U.S. Supreme Court lacks a jurisprudence for when courts should defer to immigration agency interpretations of civil removal statutes that involve criminal law terms or otherwise require analysis of criminal law. This Article represents a first step toward such a jurisprudence, arguing for an expansive principle of nondeference in cases involving ambiguity in the scope of crime-based removal statutes. The zone of nondeference includes not only statutes like the aggravated felony provision that have both civil and criminal application, but all removal grounds premised on a crime. The animating principles of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. as well as the rationales behind both the ban on deference to criminal prosecutors and the criminal and immigration rules of lenity all support the conclusion that courts should not defer to agency interpretations of crime-based removal grounds.

Keywords: Immigration, Chevron, deference, crimmigration, deportation, criminal deportation

JEL Classification: immigration

Suggested Citation

Sharpless, Rebecca A., Zone of Nondeference: Chevron and Deportation for a Crime (July 19, 2017). 9 Drexel L. Rev. 323 (2017), University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-22, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca A. Sharpless (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

1311 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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