Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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In 2013, the status of Grijalva-Martinez, a citizen of Guatemala, was adjusted from asylee to lawful permanent resident. In 2016, he was convicted, under New Jersey law, of criminal sexual contact and of endangering the welfare of children. The government charged him as removable as an alien convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), an aggravated felony, and a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment. Grijalva-Martinez applied for withholding of removal and Convention Against Torture (CAT) protection, asserting that he feared violence at the hands of gang members, including his former stepfather.The IJ sustained the removability charges, finding that Grijalva-Martinez’s conviction for criminal sexual contact was both a CIMT under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) and an aggravated felony under section 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) and that he was ineligible for withholding of removal because he was convicted for criminal sexual contact, a particularly serious crime (8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3)(B)(ii)) and ineligible for CAT relief because he had not established that he would be subject to torture if removed. The BIA and the Third Circuit upheld the decision, rejecting arguments that the IJ and BIA erred in concluding that criminal sexual contact is an aggravated felony, erred in concluding that the conviction is for a particularly serious crime, and failed to apply the proper legal framework to the CAT claim. View "Grijalva-Martinez v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied the petition for review of the BIA's decision determining that petitioner was ineligible for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1). The panel held that the BIA reasonably concluded that petitioner had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed based on his conviction for the offense of knowingly sponsoring or exhibiting an animal in a fighting venture under 7 U.S.C. 2156(a)(1). The panel deferred to the BIA's conclusion that, pursuant to the cross-reference in section 1229b(b)(1)(C), an alien is ineligible for cancellation of removal if the alien has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude for which a sentence of one year or more may be imposed, regardless of whether the alien meets the immigration prerequisites for inadmissibility or deportability. View "Ortega-Lopez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the government defendants in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action brought by plaintiff, seeking documents related to the revocation of his visa.The court held that the contested documents were properly withheld under FOIA Exemption 3, and specifically INA 222(f), because they pertain to the issuance and refusal of a visa. Furthermore, officials properly invoked Exemption 3 to withhold revocation documents as they are related to visa issuances and refusals. Finally, plaintiff failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that the records are needed by a court "in the interest of the ends of justice," and the discretionary release of records under 8 U.S.C. 1202(f)(1) provides no basis for disclosure in this FOIA action. For the reasons set forth in a separate summary order addressing FOIA Exemption 5 filed simultaneously with this opinion, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Spadaro v. United States Customs and Border Protection" on Justia Law

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The conduct proscribed by Oregon's former marijuana delivery statute, Or. Rev. Stat. 475.860 (2011), does not constitute the federal generic crime of "illicit trafficking of a controlled substance," under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(B).The Ninth Circuit held that the Oregon statute criminalizes more conduct—namely, solicitation—than does the federal generic crime. The panel concluded that "illicit trafficking" does not include solicitation offenses and thus Oregon's former crime of marijuana delivery for consideration, Or. Rev. Stat. 475.860(2)(a), does not qualify as an aggravated felony under section 1101(a)(43)(B). In this case, the BIA erred in relying on Rendon v. Mukasey, 520 F.3d 967 (9th Cir. 2008), especially given the panel's earlier precedent establishing that solicitation offenses do not fall under the controlled substance ground for deportation under section 1227(a)(2)(B)(i). Therefore, the panel granted the petition for review and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cortes-Maldonado v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Cartagena was born in El Salvador in 1996. In 2013, her parents moved to the U.S. Cartagena remained in El Salvador with her newborn daughter and two siblings. Cartagena received a call from a man, calling himself her cousin, who told her to tell her parents "they have to send us $200.” He sent texts saying that if they didn’t send the money an unidentified gang would kill her siblings. Cartagena’s parents sent her money for the gang. The threats continued. Her parents were unable to meet increasing demands. Gang members came to the family home and cut Cartagena's nine-year-old brother with a knife, telling him that “his parents [had] to see.” They later returned and beat Cartagena and her brother and raped Cartagena, threatening to kill her daughter. Cartagena fled to the U.S. with her daughter and siblings.Cartagena sought asylum based on the persecution that was based on her membership to the Cartagena family social group. An IJ found her credible but concluded that she had failed to demonstrate that the persecution occurred on account of her group membership because “the primary motivation … was monetary gain.” The BIA agreed, finding that family members were harmed because of their failure to meet the extortion demands, rather than their family ties.The Fourth Circuit reversed. The IJ and BIA failed to consider important evidence that compels the conclusion that family membership was at least one central reason for the persecution. Their conclusions are contrary to law and inconsistent with the evidence of repeated statements that the money being extorted was from Cartegena’s parents and that the persecutors contacted her in order to communicate their threats to her parents. View "Hernandez-Cartagena v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Larios, an El Salvadoran national, entered the country without inspection in 1986. In 1998, Larios, allegedly thinking he was being robbed, pulled out a knife and caused the person to flee. Larios pleaded guilty to “threaten[ing] to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another . . . or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror,” N.J. Stat. 2C:12-3(a). In removal proceedings, he sought cancellation of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1), a discretionary form of relief unavailable to those who have “been convicted of an offense under section 1182(a)(2),” including “a crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT).Larios argued that his crime could not qualify as a CIMT because, under the categorical approach, the elements of a state statute must define an offense not broader than the federal statute, while “the least culpable conduct necessary to sustain a conviction under the [New Jersey] statute,” a threat to commit “simple assault,” did not meet the criteria to qualify as “turpitudinous.” The Third Circuit held the statute was divisible and remanded. On remand, however, the IJ declined to apply the modified categorical approach. The BIA affirmed. After a second remand, the BIA again rejected Larios’s application.The Third Circuit granted Larios's third petition, stating that under the modified categorical approach, Larios’s crime of conviction has a minimum mental state of recklessness but lacks any statutory aggravating factors, so the least culpable conduct is a reckless threat to commit a violent property crime, which is not turpitudinous. View "Larios v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for review of the BIA's final order of removal denying petitioner's application to adjust his status to lawful permanent resident based on his material support to a terrorist organization. Petitioner argued that his $100 payment to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia was made under duress and was insignificant. The court held, however, that binding precedent, Alturo v. U.S. Att'y Gen., 716 F.3d 1310, where the BIA reasonably concluded that the statutory bar does not exempt material support provided to a terrorist organization under duress, foreclosed petitioner's duress argument. The court also held that the unambiguous text of 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI) foreclosed petitioner's claim that the payment was insignificant. In this case, because petitioner gave money to known terrorists, he afforded "funds," and thus afforded "material support." View "Hincapie-Zapata v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal of an IJ's order of removal, holding that substantial evidence supported the denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and the denial of protection under the Convention Against Torture. The panel held that petitioner failed to show a well founded fear of persecution based on a protected ground.In this case, petitioner was not credible because of his inconsistent statements about why he left Brazil and the BIA reasonably found it implausible that petitioner randomly encountered General Kangama’s nephew at a Brazilian bus stop after only a few days in the country. Substantial evidence also supports the BIA's decision that petitioner did not rehabilitate his testimony with sufficient corroborating evidence, and the BIA did not err in concluding that the evidence petitioner provided was entitled to limited weight. Furthermore, the evidence does not meet the high threshold of establishing that it is more likely than not that petitioner will be tortured by or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official. Finally, petitioner's due process rights were not violated based on transcription issues and a credible fear review hearing. View "Mukulumbutu v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Government challenges the district court's preliminary injunction entered in response to plaintiffs' claims that conditions at the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center, where they were detained, placed them at unconstitutional risk of contracting COVID-19. After oral argument, 38 detainees had tested positive for COVID-19, over 300 were awaiting test results, and 9 had been hospitalized.The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part the preliminary injunction order, holding that the district court was permitted to order the reduction of Adelanto's population, which may have required the release of some detainees, if such a remedy was necessary to cure the alleged constitutional violations. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing some form of preliminary injunctive relief in response to plaintiffs' due process claims. The panel explained that, in light of the district court's factual findings which the Government has not shown to be clearly erroneous, the conditions at Adelanto in April 2020 violated detainees' due process right to reasonable safety where Adelanto was so crowded that social distancing to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus was impossible, detainees had inadequate access to masks, guards were not required to wear masks, there was not enough soap or hand sanitizer to go around, detainees were responsible for cleaning the facility with only dirty towels and dirty water, detainees were compelled to sleep with less than six feet of distance between them, and not all new arrivals were being properly quarantined or tested. The panel stated that the Government was aware of the risks and its inadequate response reflected a reckless disregard for detainee safety. Therefore, the district court rightly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits. Furthermore, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to suffer irreparable harm absent relief given COVID-19's high mortality rate, and the equities and public interest tipped in plaintiffs' favor. The panel further held that the district court did not err by provisionally certifying a class of all Adelanto detainees. In light of the changed circumstances at Adelanto since the preliminary injunction was entered, the panel vacated in part and remanded in part for the district court to address the current circumstances. View "Hernandez Roman v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' 8 U.S.C. 1503 claim and motion to reinstate or refile the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claims.The court held that plaintiffs forfeited their claim that the time bar in Gonzalez v. Limon, 926 F.3d 186 (5th Cir. 2019), should not apply and that the APA claims should be restored because section 1503 is not an adequate remedy for the denial of their visas. The court has previously held that section 1503 supplied "an adequate alternative remedy" for challenges to failed passport applications, and the fact that plaintiffs allowed the limitations period to run does not make section 1503 inadequate. Therefore, plaintiffs' section 1503 claim is time-barred under Gonzalez and the district court properly dismissed it; the time bar did not make plaintiffs' section 1503 remedy inadequate and hence did not require the district court to reinstate the APA claims; and because the APA claims would not have survived a renewed motion to dismiss, any amendment to the complaint would have been futile. View "Martinez v. Pompeo" on Justia Law