Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture for Silais, a Haitian citizen and opposition political party member, who had arrived in the U.S. in 2011, without a valid entry document (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(7)(A)(i)). Silais testified that he had been attacked and threatened because of his political activity. The court upheld the Immigration Judge’s findings that Silais’s testimony was vague and inconsistent, that he had not presented sufficient corroboration, and that he could not show that the Haitian government was unwilling or unable to protect him if he were to return. Silais had never attempted to file a police report or otherwise prompt law enforcement officers to intervene. View "Silais v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit remanded a determination that Dutton-Myrie, a citizen of Panama, was ineligible for deferral of removal under the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Board of Immigration Appeals must determine, de novo, whether factual findings that the Panamanian government actively engages against criminal gangs and that Dutton-Myrie did not provide the police notice that the gang attacked him in the past, were sufficient to establish acquiescence. Dutton-Myrie arrived in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa in 1991 and later pled guilty to cocaine-related charges. He escaped during an initial attempt to deport him, but was apprehended in 2005 and deported to Panama. A few days after he returned, a group of men stabbed him in the neck. He fled the country and re-entered the U.S. The government apprehended Dutton-Myrie a second time in 2007; he claimed that the government of Panama was unwilling or unable to protect him from gang attacks. View "Dutton-Myrie v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native of Panama and admitted to the United States on a B-2 visitor visa, was subjected to expedited removal proceedings because he was not lawfully admitted for permanent residence and his burglary offense was an aggravated felony for purposes of immigration law. Petitioner unsuccessfully sought review in the immigration court, petitioned for review, and was then removed. Following the DHS's subsequent cancellation of petitioner's removal order, the Attorney General moved in this Court to dismiss petitioner's petition for review. The court denied the Attorney General's renewed motion to dismiss, concluding that the court was not stripped of jurisdiction in a pending case simply by writing "cancelled" on a removal order the DHS has sued to remove an alien, and the court declined to dismiss the petition on mootness grounds. The court found that the Attorney General waived his remaining arguments. On the merits, the court concluded that the offense of statutory burglary in Virginia does not constitute an aggravated felony for purposes of immigration law. The court concluded that the Virginia burglary statute is indivisible, and application of the modified categorical approach is inappropriate. Using the categorical approach, the court concluded that the Virginia offense of statutory burglary criminalizes more conduct than the generic federal offense of burglary. Therefore, the DHS erred in classifying petitioner's conviction as an aggravated felony. The court granted the petition for review, vacated, and remanded. View "Castendet-Lewis v. Sessions III" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a citizen of Jamaica, asserted a Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel challenge to his conviction under the criminal counterfeiting statute. The district court determined that, although counsel provided deficient performance, defendant was not prejudice because the district court corrected counsel's deficiencies. In this case, defendant unknowingly pleaded to an aggravated felony that rendered him automatically deportable. Counsel had consulted with an immigration attorney regarding repercussions of defendant's plea to his immigration status, but the immigration attorney gave advice based upon an amended version of the statute that did not apply to defendant's case. Therefore, neither counsel nor the district court informed defendant that he was pleading to a crime that rendered him automatically deportable. The court issued a certificate of appealability and addressed defendant's claim on the merits. The court concluded that defendant received deficient performance under the Sixth Amendment, and that it prejudiced defendant because the district court's warnings, which were general and referenced only a vague "risk" or possibility of deportation, did not cure counsel's deficient performance. The court explained that defendant could demonstrate prejudice by showing a reasonable likelihood that, absent his counsel's error, he could have negotiated a different plea agreement or would have gone to trial instead. Accordingly, the court reversed, vacated, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Swaby" on Justia Law

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B.R.C.M., an unaccompanied minor from Guatemala, illegally entered the United States at age thirteen and was released to his godmother as a sponsor. Thereafter, a private petition was filed on behalf of B.R.C.M. alleging three grounds for adjudication of dependency under Fla. Stat. 39.01(15). The circuit court denied the petition after a hearing during which the court made no factual findings. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the summary denial of the petition, concluding that B.R.C.M. was not entitled to the protections of Chapter 39 because he was not “truly” abandoned, abused, or neglected and because his petition was filed for the sole purpose of seeking an immigration status. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District, holding that B.R.C.M.’s private petition for dependency warranted individualized consideration and adjudication rather than summary denial. Remanded. View "B.R.C.M. v. Florida Department of Children & Families" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, part of the former Yugoslavia, sought review of the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's finding that petitioner was ineligible for relief from removal because he failed to prove he was not an alien who committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings under color of law of any foreign nation pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(E)(iii). The IJ found petitioner removable because, at the time of his admittance and adjustment of status, he concealed that he had served in the Army of the Serb Republic, Vojska Republika Srpske (VRS). The court explained that DHS proved by clear and convincing evidence that petitioner was removable because he was inadmissible under section 1182(a)(6)(C)(i) for willful misrepresentation of a material fact, and thus the issue was whether he was eligible for waiver relief from that removal under section 1227(a)(1)(H). Because petitioner concedes that he was removable for willful misrepresentation and DHS's evidence indicates that he may have participated or assisted in extrajudicial killings at Srebrenica in July, 1995, the court denied the petition for review. The court lacked jurisdiction to grant petitioner's request for voluntary departure. View "Maric v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, who was in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), sought review of the BIA's dismissal of his appeal of the IJ's order of removal based on 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(7)(A)(i)(I), which makes an immigrant inadmissible if he lacks a valid entry document "at the time of application for admission." Petitioner, a native of Bangladesh, was in the CNMI without admission or parole on November 28, 2009, when the immigration laws of the United States took effect in the CNMI. The court concluded that petitioner was an immigrant who lacked a valid entry document and was deemed by law to have made a continuing application for admission by being present in the CNMI, an application that was considered and denied during his removal proceedings. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Minto v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, sought review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of his requests for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court concluded that the BIA applied the proper de novo standard for reviewing the IJ's finding that petitioner had not demonstrated an objectively reasonable fear of future persecution; substantial evidence supports the BIA's conclusion that petitioner failed to demonstrate past persecution and future persecution; substantial evidence supports the IJ and BIA's determination that petitioner failed to establish eligibility for asylum; and thus petitioner was not eligible for withholding of removal. Accordingly, the court denied the petition. View "Lemus-Arita v. Sessions, III" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a 53-year-old garbage truck driver, filed suit against USA Waste, his employer of 32 years, alleging wrongful termination based on age discrimination and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment for USA Waste. The court held that the district court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of USA Waste because plaintiff established a prima facie case under both his age discrimination and retaliation theories, and USA Waste failed to introduce any evidence that it had a legitimate reason for firing him. In this case, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Pub.L. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359, did not require proof of employment eligibility from plaintiff, and USA Waste could not make plaintiff's reinstatement contingent on verification of his immigration status because doing so would violate California public policy. Furthermore, plaintiff's use of an attorney was activity protected by California public policy, USA Waste fired plaintiff because he was represented by his attorney at the Settlement Agreement negotiations, and the district court erred by holding that USA Waste provided a legitimate reason for firing plaintiff. Therefore, the court concluded that USA Waste failed to meet its burden as to plaintiff's claim based on retaliation discrimination. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied plaintiff's oral request for leave to amend the complaint eight months after the filing deadline. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Santillan v. USA Waste of California" on Justia Law

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In 2007, removal proceedings were initiated against Petitioner. An immigration judge (IJ), however, deemed Petitioner to be a U.S. citizen. In 2016, Petitioner was convicted of a drug felony, and a second IJ ordered Petitioner removed. The IJ denied Petitioner’s motion to terminate removal proceedings on the basis of the prior IJ’s determination that Petitioner was a U.S. citizen. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed Petitioner’s appeal, agreeing that res judicata was inapplicable in the context of an administrative proceeding where doing so would “frustrate[] Congressional intent.” The First Circuit dismissed Petitioner’s petition for review, holding (1) the applicability of res judicata becomes immaterial before this Court because of the jurisdictional limitation imposed by the Immigration and Nationality Act; (2) Petitioner failed to meet his burden of proving that he is a United States citizen; and (3) accordingly, the jurisdictional bar in 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2) (C) applies and precludes judicial review of the final order of removal against Petitioner. View "Miranda v. Sessions" on Justia Law