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Ramirez, a citizen of El Salvador, first entered the U.S. in 1996 at age 17. Nearly 20 years later, Ramirez was placed in removal proceedings, charged with being present without being admitted or paroled under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Ramirez applied for special rule cancellation of removal under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), 111 Stat. 2160, 2196–2199 (1997), which allows certain nationals from designated countries to apply for suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal and adjust their status to permanent residency. To qualify under NACARA, an alien ordinarily must establish at least seven years of continuous presence in the U.S. but an applicant who is inadmissible or removable for having committed a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) must establish at least 10 years of continuous presence after becoming inadmissible or removable. In 2012, Ramirez was convicted of petit larceny and obstruction of justice. The Board of Immigration Appeals found him ineligible for NACARA relief. The Fourth Circuit vacated the order of removal, holding that obstruction of justice under Virginia law is not a CIMT because it may be committed without fraud, deception, or any other aggravating element that shocks the public conscience. The court directed the government to facilitate Ramirez’s return to the United States to participate in further proceedings. View "Ramirez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Defendant Magdiel Sanchez-Urias pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the country after being deported. The court imposed a sentence that included a $1,000 fine. Defendant appealed, arguing that he could not afford the fine. After review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed: defendant bore the burden to show that he lacked the assets to pay the fine. But he refused to provide financial information at his presentence interview, and the district court did not clearly err in finding on the record before it that Defendant had not established his inability to pay. View "United States v. Sanchez-Urias" on Justia Law

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Dimaya, a lawful U.S. permanent resident has two convictions for first-degree burglary under California law. An Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals held that California first-degree burglary is a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. 16(b), so that Dimaya was deportable under 8 U.S.C. 1229b. While Dimaya’s appeal was pending the Supreme Court held that a similar clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA)—defining “violent felony” as any felony that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another,” was unconstitutionally “void for vagueness” (Johnson decision). Relying on Johnson, the Ninth Circuit held that section 16(b), as incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act, was also unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court affirmed. Section 16(b) has the same two features as ACCA’s residual clause—an ordinary-case requirement and an ill-defined risk threshold—combined in the same constitutionally problematic way. The combination of “indeterminacy about how to measure the risk posed by a crime [and] indeterminacy about how much risk it takes for the crime to qualify as a violent felony,” result in “more unpredictability and arbitrariness than the Due Process Clause tolerates,” Three textual discrepancies between ACCA’s residual clause and section 16(b) do not relate to those features that Johnson found to produce impermissible vagueness or otherwise makes the statutory inquiry more determinate. View "Sessions v. Dimaya" on Justia Law

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Gutierrez, a citizen of Bolivia, has been a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident since her 1980 admission. In 2012, she pleaded guilty to credit card theft, Virginia Code 18.2-192(1). She had prior convictions for petty larceny and for prescription fraud, DHS initiated removal under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii), based on her convictions for petty larceny and prescription fraud, as crimes involving moral turpitude. Gutierrez applied for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(a). DHS argued statutory ineligibility because she had been convicted of an aggravated felony in 2012, triggering 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G). An IJ concluded that Gutierrez was ineligible for relief. The BIA employed the categorical approach; found Virginia Code 18.2-192(1) overbroad because the statute contained at least one subdivision, under which “a person can be convicted . . . absent proof of an ‘intent to deprive’ the rightful owner of the property.” The BIA then determined that the section was divisible because its subdivisions “criminalize[d] diverse acts, committed with different mental states." The BIA reasoned, given that the evidence that the 8 U.S.C. 1229b(a)(3) “aggravated felony bar ‘may apply’,” applied 8 C.F.R. 1240.8(d) and required Gutierrez to “prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the bar [was] inapplicable.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Where an alien was convicted under a divisible criminal statute and the record is inconclusive as to whether the conviction was for an aggravated felony, such inconclusiveness defeats the alien’s eligibility for relief. View "Gutierrez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Jose Maria Garcia-Martinez was a lawful permanent resident at the time of his convictions, and the BIA found him removable, under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii), for having been convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT), not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct. He was granted review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision, arguing the BIA erred in concluding that Garcia’s Oregon theft convictions were CIMTs. The Ninth Circuit noted that the Oregon theft offenses for which Garcia was convicted did not require a permanent taking of property. Therefore, the panel concluded that, at the time Garcia committed the offenses, they were not crimes involving moral turpitude because for many decades the BIA had required a permanent intent to deprive in order for a theft offense to be a crime involving moral turpitude. "In short, Garcia’s thefts were not CIMTs, and his removal order must be set aside. ... the BIA has changed or updated or revised its rule for the future. Nevertheless, that rule should not be applied to Garcia, who pled and was convicted while the old rule was extant." View "Garcia-Martinez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Moreno, a 49-year-old citizen of Argentina, was admitted to the U.S. under a grant of humanitarian parole in 1980. In 2015, Moreno pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography under Pennsylvania’s “Sexual abuse of children” statute and was sentenced to five years of probation and required to register as a sex offender. DHS initiated removal proceedings in 2016, charging Moreno as removable for having been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). The Immigration Judge ordered him removed; the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected Moreno’s appeal. The Third Circuit denied his petition for review, rejecting Moreno’s argument that, under the categorical approach, the least culpable conduct hypothetically necessary to sustain a conviction under the statute of his conviction is not morally turpitudinous. Pennsylvania’s Pennsylvania’s community consensus, as gauged by case law and legislative enactments, condemns the least culpable conduct punishable under the statute as morally turpitudinous. View "Moreno v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The conviction in this case stemmed from an incident that occurred in the summer of 2010. Defendant, who was attending the University of Vermont (UVM) at that time, met with complainant, another UVM student, to go to a Burlington beach. Complainant later reported that defendant had compelled her to engage in nonconsensual oral sex. In 2012, defendant was convicted of felony sexual assault and sentenced to eight years to life in prison. Defendant appealed, arguing his sentence violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because his immigration status interacted with the to-serve sentence to make him unable to get sex-offender treatment, which meant that he would not be eligible for release under the Department of Corrections’ internal procedures. Without reaching the constitutional question, the Vermont Supreme Court reversed and remanded for resentencing, directing the trial court to consider the consequences that defendant’s immigration status had on his sentence. At the sentencing hearing, the court approved nine of the special conditions suggested in the PSI, but amended the proposed language of several. There was not, however, a disclosure of any other conditions that might be imposed on defendant. The probation order, which issued after the hearing, included not only the special conditions discussed on the record and imposed at the sentencing hearing, but also nineteen additional “standard” conditions. Defendant challenged the probation conditions before the Supreme Court, arguing many of the conditions were not orally pronounced during the sentencing hearing and were not sufficiently connected to his crime or rehabilitation. He also argued the sex-offender condition prohibiting defendant from purchasing, possessing, or using pornography or erotica and from going to “adult bookstores, sex shops, topless bars, etc.” was unrelated to his offense and unconstitutionally vague. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded defendant failed to properly preserve his objections to the standard conditions and reviewed them for plain error. Based on the particular provisions and the State’s concessions, the Court struck some conditions, remanded some conditions, and affirmed the remaining. The Supreme Court struck the challenged special condition as unsupported by the record. View "Vermont v. Lumumba" on Justia Law

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The conviction in this case stemmed from an incident that occurred in the summer of 2010. Defendant, who was attending the University of Vermont (UVM) at that time, met with complainant, another UVM student, to go to a Burlington beach. Complainant later reported that defendant had compelled her to engage in nonconsensual oral sex. In 2012, defendant was convicted of felony sexual assault and sentenced to eight years to life in prison. Defendant appealed, arguing his sentence violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because his immigration status interacted with the to-serve sentence to make him unable to get sex-offender treatment, which meant that he would not be eligible for release under the Department of Corrections’ internal procedures. Without reaching the constitutional question, the Vermont Supreme Court reversed and remanded for resentencing, directing the trial court to consider the consequences that defendant’s immigration status had on his sentence. At the sentencing hearing, the court approved nine of the special conditions suggested in the PSI, but amended the proposed language of several. There was not, however, a disclosure of any other conditions that might be imposed on defendant. The probation order, which issued after the hearing, included not only the special conditions discussed on the record and imposed at the sentencing hearing, but also nineteen additional “standard” conditions. Defendant challenged the probation conditions before the Supreme Court, arguing many of the conditions were not orally pronounced during the sentencing hearing and were not sufficiently connected to his crime or rehabilitation. He also argued the sex-offender condition prohibiting defendant from purchasing, possessing, or using pornography or erotica and from going to “adult bookstores, sex shops, topless bars, etc.” was unrelated to his offense and unconstitutionally vague. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded defendant failed to properly preserve his objections to the standard conditions and reviewed them for plain error. Based on the particular provisions and the State’s concessions, the Court struck some conditions, remanded some conditions, and affirmed the remaining. The Supreme Court struck the challenged special condition as unsupported by the record. View "Vermont v. Lumumba" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding that petitioner was statutorily ineligible for withholding of removal because he was convicted of a "particularly serious crime," and holding that an applicant's "mental health as a factor in a criminal act falls within the province of the criminal courts and is not a factor to be considered in a particularly serious crime analysis." See Matter of G-G-S-, 26 I. & N. Dec. 339 (BIA 2014). The panel held that Matter of G-G-S- was not entitled to Chevron deference where its blanket rule against considering mental health was contrary to Congress's clearly expressed intent that the particularly serious crime determination, in cases where a conviction falls outside the only statutorily enumerated per se category of particularly serious crimes, required a case-by-case analysis. Furthermore, the BIA's interpretation was not reasonable in that the BIA's two rationales for its broad rule – 1) that the Agency could not reassess a criminal court's findings, and 2) that mental health was never relevant to the particularly serious crime determination – were unpersuasive and were inconsistent with the law of this Circuit and the BIA's own decisions. View "Gomez-Sanchez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's decision to deny the I-751 petition, to terminate petitioner's permanent resident status, and to have her removed under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(D)(i). The court held that substantial evidence supported the finding that petitioner failed to establish that her marriage was bona fide and not entered into primarily to secure an immigration benefit. In this case, there was substantial direct evidence of the couple's intent at the time of marriage for petitioner to come to the country to enter into a sham marriage for immigration purposes. View "Sagoe v. Sessions" on Justia Law