OCTOBER TERM, 2009
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
CARACHURI-ROSENDO v. HOLDER, ATTORNEY
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
No. 09–60. Argued March 31, 2010—Decided June 14, 2010
Petitioner, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, faced de-
portation after committing two misdemeanor drug offenses in Texas.
For the first, possession of a small amount of marijuana, he received
20 days in jail. For the second, possession without a prescription of
one antianxiety tablet, he received 10 days. Texas law, like federal
law, authorized a sentencing enhancement if the State proved that
petitioner had been previously convicted of a similar offense, but
Texas did not seek such an enhancement here. After the second con-
viction, the Federal Government initiated removal proceedings. Peti-
tioner conceded that he was removable, but claimed that he was eli-
gible for discretionary cancellation of removal under the Immigration
and Nationality Act (INA) because he had not been convicted of any
“aggravated felony,” 8 U. S. C. §1229b(a)(3). Section 1101(a)(43)(B)
defines that term to include, inter alia, “illicit trafficking in a con-
trolled substance . . . including a drug trafficking crime” as defined in
18 U. S. C. §924(c), which, in turn, defines a “drug trafficking crime”
as a “felony punishable under,” inter alia, “the Controlled Substances
Act (21 U. S. C. 801 et seq.).” A felony is a crime for which the
“maximum term of imprisonment authorized” is “more than one
year.” §3559(a). Simple possession offenses are ordinarily misde-