Morales, a native and citizen of Mexico, was arrested in 1994 for entering the United States without inspection. He was released and served with a mail- out order to show cause why he should not be sent back to Mexico. Eventually, a removal hearing was scheduled, and Morales was notified via certified mail of the time and place of the hearing. When Morales failed to attend the hearing, he was ordered removed in absentia. The INS apprehended and removed Morales from the United States in 1998. He attempted to reenter illegally in January 2001-- this time using a false border-crossing card. He was apprehended at the port of entry and was expeditiously removed. Undaunted, Morales reentered the United States undetected the following day. Some- time between his 1998 and 2001 removals, Morales married a U.S. citizen. In March 2001, Morales's wife filed an I-130 alien relative petition based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen. When Morales and his wife met with the INS in January 2003, an immigration officer served them with a denial of the I-130 petition and a notice of intent to reinstate Morales's removal order. The case came before a three-judge panel, which held that the regulation authorizing immigration officers to issue reinstatement orders is invalid and Morales's removal order could be reinstated only by an immigration judge. Until 1997, removal orders could be reinstated only by immigration judges (i.e., not immigration officers). In 1997, the attorney general changed the applicable regulation to delegate this authority, in most cases, to immigration officers. Does the attorney general have the authority to change an INS regulation? Why or why not?
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