Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision holding that petitioner's 1999 conviction for simple possession of cocaine in violation of California Health and Safety Code 11350 qualifies as a "controlled substance offense," thereby rendering him removable under section 237(a)(2)(B)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i).Although California Health and Safety Code 11350, by its terms, applies to a broader range of "controlled substance[s]" than the narrower federal definition that governs under section 237(a)(2)(B)(i), the panel agreed with the BIA that petitioner's conviction nonetheless qualifies under the so-called "modified categorical" approach to analyzing prior convictions. Applying this approach, the panel concluded that section 11350 is a "divisible" statute that defines multiple alternative offenses, depending upon which controlled substance was possessed. In this case, because petitioner's conviction under section 11350 was for possession of cocaine, and because cocaine qualifies as a "controlled substance" under the applicable federal definition, it follows that petitioner was convicted of an offense "relating to a controlled substance" within the meaning of section 237(a)(2)(B)(i). Therefore, the panel concluded that petitioner was properly ordered to be removed from the United States. View "Lazo v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner sought relief after he had been threatened and beaten by gang members and police officers who urged him to join the gang. The court concluded that petitioner's negative view of gangs does not amount to a "political opinion" within the meaning of the immigration laws, and that substantial evidence supports the BIA's decision that he has not established a likelihood of future torture if he were to be removed to El Salvador. The court considered petitioner's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Zelaya-Moreno v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the order of the immigration judge (IJ) denying Petitioner's application for withholding of removal, holding that the IJ and BIA made legal errors.Petitioner, a native and citizen of Honduras, twice entered the United States without authorization. After the government ordered Petitioner removed to Honduras, Petitioner filed an application for withholding of removal. The IJ denied the motion. The BIA affirmed and denied Petitioner's motion to reopen and remand. The First Circuit vacated the removal order and remanded the case to the BIA for further proceedings, holding (1) the BIA erred in dismissing Petitioner's appeal based on her failure to corroborate; and (2) the BIA erred in finding that Petitioner did not adequately apply for relief under the Convention Against Torture. View "Molina-Diaz v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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In 2017, Sunuwar was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident based on a diversity visa. In 2018, he beat and strangled his wife, Sunuwar was convicted of strangulation and contempt for violating a protection-from-abuse order. Charged with removability as an alien who was convicted of an aggravated felony, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), a crime of domestic violence, section 1227(a)(2)(E)(i), and a crime involving moral turpitude, section1227(a)(2)(A)(i), and as an alien who was found to have violated a protection order, 1227(a)(2)(E)(ii), Sunuwar contested the charges of removability and sought asylum, withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). His wife supported his petition but gave differing factual accounts.An IJ determined that Sunuwar is deportable and had committed a particularly serious crime that disqualifies him from all forms of relief except CAT deferral of removal. The IJ denied CAT deferral of removal based on an adverse credibility finding with respect to Sunuwar having been kidnapped and stabbed by Maoists in Nepal. The Third Circuit denied a petition for relief. Sunuwar was deportable, based on his violation of the protection order; there was no error in the particularly-serious-crime determination and the adverse credibility finding was reasonable. View "Sunuwar v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the determination of an immigration judge (IJ) that Petitioners, a husband and wife who were natives and citizens of Brazil, were not eligible for an adjustment of status pursuant to the "grandfathering" provisions of section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), holding that the BIA and IJ did not appropriately focus their inquiry.On appeal, Petitioners argued that the BIA applied incorrect standards in determining that a labor certification application (LCA) filed on behalf of the petitioner husband was not "approvable when filed" and erred in denying their motion to remand. The First Circuit held (1) determining whether an LCA is approvable when filed requires a holistic inquiry that is not a license to deny grandfathering based on any perceived shortcoming in an LCA; and (2) the IJ and BIA did not keep their focus on that inquiry in the course of their evaluation of the petitioner's LCA. View "Oliveira v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of immigration relief to petitioner. The panel held that a conviction for importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms without a license, 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(1)(A), is categorically an "illicit trafficking in firearms" aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(C). Therefore, petitioner is ineligible for asylum based on his conviction under section 922(a)(1)(A). In this case, the panel deferred to the BIA's interpretation of "illicit trafficking" in Matter of Davis, 20 I. & N. Dec. 536 (BIA 1992), that illicit trafficking in a controlled substance – another aggravated felony – includes any felony conviction involving the "unlawful trading or dealing of any controlled substance." The panel explained that section 922(a)(1)(A) is a categorical match to "illicit trafficking in firearms" under section 1101(a)(43)(C). View "Chacon v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In this case, the Knights Templar, a local drug cartel, murdered petitioner's husband, twice threatened her life, and forcibly took her property in retaliation for helping her son escape recruitment by fleeing to the United States. The Board assumed without explicitly deciding that petitioner's social groups, comprised of her family or property owners, were cognizable.The Ninth Circuit held that substantial evidence does not support the BIA's conclusion that petitioner was not persecuted "on account of" her membership in a particular social group. Under the panel's case law, it is sufficient under our mixed-motive precedent for the petitioner to show that a protected ground "was a cause of the persecutors' acts." Furthermore, the panel found Parada v. Sessions, 902 F.3d at 910, instructive and concluded that Parada indicates that such sweeping retaliation towards a family unit over time can demonstrate a kind of animus distinct from "purely personal retribution." The panel explained that the BIA erred in its nexus analysis for both petitioner's asylum claim and her withholding of removal claim. The panel remanded with instructions for the BIA to reconsider petitioner's asylum claim, and for the BIA to consider whether petitioner is eligible for withholding of removal under the proper "a reason" standard. The panel denied the petition as it relates to petitioner's claim for relief under CAT. View "Naranjo Garcia v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, plaintiffs, two immigrants who admit that they are subject to valid removal orders, filed suit alleging that the government cannot remove them because that would interfere with their "regulatory rights" to remain in the United States while they apply for waivers.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that plaintiffs' applications do not give the court subject matter jurisdiction to interfere with the execution of their removal orders. The court explained that plaintiffs' claims fall squarely within 8 U.S.C. 1252(g)'s jurisdictional bar where the action being challenged is the government's execution of plaintiffs' removal orders. In this case, section 1252(g) strips the court of jurisdiction to hear the claims brought by plaintiffs, and the statute does not offer any discretion-versus-authority distinction of the sort they claim. Because Congress stripped federal courts of jurisdiction over such claims, the court affirmed the district court's dismissals. View "Camarena v. Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Juan Rodriguez, a non-citizen, entered a plea agreement in San Diego County that avoided any adverse immigration consequences. After the plea was entered, but before sentencing, Rodriguez was arrested and jailed for another crime in Riverside County. As a result of that arrest, Rodriguez did not appear at the scheduled sentencing hearing. He later agreed to be sentenced in absentia, and the court imposed a sentence subjecting Rodriguez to deportation. Deportation proceedings were initiated after Rodriguez’s release from custody and remain ongoing. In 2019, after amendments to Penal Code section 1473.7, Rodriguez moved to vacate his conviction on the grounds that he had not been sufficiently advised of the immigration consequences he faced. After an evidentiary hearing, the court denied the motion. Rodriguez challenged that decision, asserting the court erred by finding he meaningfully understood he would become deportable as a result of the plea. The Court of Appeal concluded the evidence supported Rodriguez’s motion. The Court thus reversed and remanded with directions to the trial court to grant Rodriguez’s motion to vacate the conviction. View "California v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner argues that he was tortured in Italy when he was subjected for more than six years to solitary confinement and other restrictive conditions in Italy’s 41-bis prison regime, and that he would more likely than not be tortured if removed to Italy. The court concluded that the conditions petitioner alleged he faced or would face do not rise to the level of torture as that term is used under the CAT and its implementing regulations at 8 C.F.R. 1208.18. In this case, although the court recognized that petitioner developed various persisting mental ailments while in 41-bis detention, the court cannot agree that he faced severe mental pain and suffering of the kind envisioned in section 1208.18(a)(4)(ii) View "Gallina v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law