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Carter v. Colon

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20004
Nos. Nos. 80-1665 et al., 633 F.2d 964/(1st Cir., 10/24/1980)

The court rules that the exemption to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) contained in §501(c) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act (REAA) applies fully to the transfer of Cuban and Haitian refugees from Florida to Fort Allen, Puerto Rico. The district court had issued a preliminary injunction restraining the government from transferring refugees until an environmental impact statement (EIS) had been prepared under NEPA. The REAA subsequently exempted the transfer from the EIS requirement, and the injunction was lifted. The court determines that the term "United States" as used in the REAA includes Puerto Rico because the president's authority under §501(a)(1) of the Act is identical to his authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which defines "United States" to include Puerto Rico. In addition, the term "Cuban and Haitian entrants" is not limited to refugees entering the United States prior to June 19, 1980, because the date of entry is irrelevant to the environmental impact of the transfer and could not be a basis for an exemption from NEPA. The court concludes that the REAA indicates that the executive order designating Fort Allen as a relocation site is a decision committed to the president's discretion by law and is therefore not reviewable under §701(a)(2) of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Counsel for Appellants
Peter R. Steenland, Lois J. Schiffer, Donald W. Stever Jr., Richard J. Lazarus, Dorothy R. Burakreis
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2748

Counsel for Apellees
Michael J. Henke, Richard G. Wilkins
Vinson & Elkins
1101 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 862-6500

Miguel A. Gimenez-Munoz, Attorney General; Gerardo A. Carlo
Department of Justice, P.O. Box 3271, San Juan PR 00904
(809) 722-5219

Pedro Saade Llorens
Puerto Rico Legal Services
P.O. Box CM, Rio Pedras PR 00927
(809) 726-5532

Pedro J. Varela
613 Ponce de Leon Ave., Hato Rey PR 00917
(809) 751-6351

Before Coffin, Campbell, and Bownes, JJ.