Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Petitioner petitioned for review of a decision that she is ineligible to have her removal order canceled. The Fifth Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition. The court explained that Petitioner is ineligible for any relief because her removal order was reinstated after she illegally reentered the country following a prior removal.   The court concluded that the BIA correctly determined that Petitioner is ineligible to be considered for cancelation of removal. She has never challenged the order reinstating her removal. The reinstatement statute prevents her from getting any immigration “relief.” And cancelation of removal is a form of relief. Accordingly, the court denied her petition. View "Ruiz-Perez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerns the district court’s sua sponte dismissal of Plaintiff’s amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 28 U.S.C. Section 1915A—the early screening provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Plaintiff contends that the district court erred in designating him a “prisoner” under the PLRA at the time he filed his pro se complaint and that the district court further erred in ordering him to pay a filing fee before the district court.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling. The court held that the district court erred in applying the PLRA to Plaintiff’s action because Plaintiff, as a civil detainee in ICE custody, was not a “prisoner” under the PLRA when he filed his action. Thus, Plaintiff’s complaint must be viewed by the district court in the first instance and outside of the context of the PLRA on remand. Moreover, as Plaintiff was not a “prisoner” for purposes of the PLRA at the time that he filed this action, on remand, the court directed the district court to return the filing fees paid by Plaintiff pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(b)(1). Further, regarding Plaintiff’s motion before this Court seeking a return of the appellate filing fees paid pursuant to the PLRA, that motion is granted and the Clerk is directed to refund to Plaintiff the appellate filing fees paid by him to pursue this appeal. View "Lyncoln Danglar v. State of Georgia, et al." on Justia Law

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De Castro, a citizen of the Dominican Republic came to the U.S. around 2002-2003. In 2012, he married a U.S. citizen. In 2014, his spouse’s Petition for Alien Relative was approved. The State Department notified De Castro that his immigrant visa petition was eligible for further processing. Months later, he was arrested as an alien in possession of a weapon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(A). De Castro eventually pleaded guilty and was allowed to depart voluntarily in 2017. Thirteen months after the Supreme Court’s 2019 “Rehaif” decision, De Castro sought a writ of error coram nobis challenging his conviction. In Rehaif, the Supreme Court held that section 922(g)'s “knowingly” provision applies to both the possession and immigration status elements. De Castro argued that the government never proved he knew he was illegally or unlawfully in the United States; the court never informed him at his plea colloquy that the government was required to prove that element.The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition, finding that De Castro did not have a sound reason for his delay in seeking relief; his knowledge-of-immigration-status argument was not futile in 2017 when he entered his plea agreement; and De Castro cannot establish actual innocence under the Rehaif standard because he cannot demonstrate it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would conclude that he knew of his status as an illegal alien at the time he possessed a firearm. View "United States v. De Castro" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed the denial of his motion to withdraw his plea and vacate his conviction pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7, subdivision (a). The Legislature has declared that section 1473.7, as amended by Assembly Bill No. 2867, “shall be interpreted in the interests of justice and consistent with the findings and declarations made in Section 1016.2 of the Penal Code.” (Stats 2018, ch. 825, Section 1, subd. (c).)   As a result, the Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s order denying Appellant’s motion to withdraw his plea and vacate his conviction under Penal Code section 1473.7. The court remanded to the superior court with directions to grant the motion and vacate the conviction. The court concluded that Appellant has demonstrated a reasonable probability that if he had been properly advised of the immigration consequences of his plea, he would not have pleaded no contest to an offense that would subject him to mandatory deportation from the United States. Accordingly, the court wrote, that Appellant has carried his burden of establishing prejudicial error and is entitled to relief. View "P. v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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ICE has decided to rely almost exclusively on privately owned and operated facilities in California. Two such facilities are run by appellant The Geo Group, Inc. AB 32 would override the federal government’s decision, pursuant to discretion conferred by Congress, to use private contractors to run its immigration detention facilities.The Ninth Circuit en banc court vacated the district court’s denial of the United States and The Geo Group, Inc.’s motion for preliminary injunctive relief, and held that California enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 32, which states that a “person shall not operate a private detention facility within the state,” would give California a virtual power of review over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s detention decisions, in violation of the Supremacy Clause.The en banc court held that whether analyzed under intergovernmental immunity or preemption, California cannot exert this level of control over the federal government’s detention operations. The en banc court remanded for further proceedings. The en banc court held that AB 32 would breach the core promise of the Supremacy Clause. To comply with California law, ICE would have to cease its ongoing immigration detention operations in California and adopt an entirely new approach in the state. This foundational limit on state power cannot be squared with the dramatic changes that AB 32 would require ICE to make. The en banc court held that appellants are likely to prevail on their claim that AB 32 violates the Supremacy Clause as to ICE-contracted facilities. View "THE GEO GROUP, INC., ET AL V. GAVIN NEWSOM, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Petitioner asserted that, if he were removed to his native country of El Salvador, he would be identified as a gang member based on his gang tattoos and face a significant risk of being killed or tortured—either by Salvadoran officials or by members of a rival gang with the acquiescence of the Salvadoran government. The Board concluded that Petitioner failed to demonstrate a clear probability of torture because he did not establish that every step in a hypothetical chain of events was more likely than not to happen.   The Ninth Circuit filed: (1) an order amending its opinion filed on June 24, 2022, otherwise denying a motion to amend, and stating that petitions for rehearing and for rehearing en banc may be filed, and (2) an amended opinion granting Petitioner’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision affirming denial of protection under the Convention Against Torture, and remanding. In the amended opinion, the panel held that the Board erred by failing to adequately consider Petitioner’s aggregate risk of torture from multiple sources, and erred in rejecting Petitioner’s expert’s credible testimony solely because it was not corroborated by additional country conditions evidence.   The panel concluded that the Board erred by failing to assess Petitioner’s aggregate risk of torture. The panel concluded that the Board also erred by disregarding credible testimony from Petitioner’s expert. The panel remanded for the agency to properly assess the aggregate risk that Petitioner will be tortured if he is removed to El Salvador and, as part of that assessment, to properly consider the expert testimony. View "MIGUEL VELASQUEZ-SAMAYOA V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitioned for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The order dismissed his appeal of an Immigration Judge’s denials of his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. He presented several procedural and substantive challenges on appeal.   The Fifth Circuit dismissed the petition for review in part for lack of jurisdiction  and denied in part. The court explained that the BIA did not specifically discuss the IJ’s interpretation of the evidence, but it did reference the particular testimony on the severity of his attacks, the police involvement, and the affidavits that Petitioner alleged the IJ misconstrued. Even if the BIA did not agree with Petitioner’s contention about mischaracterizations, the BIA did mention the evidence that Petitioner alleges it failed to consider meaningfully. This is sufficient.    Finally, the court concluded, that it was reasonable for the BIA to conclude that the new evidence Petitioner presented would not change the outcome of his case. The medical evaluation Petitioner sought to submit would not have altered his case because the evaluation did not discuss symptoms and injuries related to the BJP attacks. Further, it was reasonable for the BIA to conclude Petitioner’s new declaration or affidavits would not have influenced his case, considering he already supplied a declaration and his testimony describing his injuries as minor could not be remedied with his additional evidence. View "Kumar v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Freza, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, became a lawful permanent U.S. resident in 2004. In 2012, he was convicted of robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm, burglary, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. While Freza was serving his ten-year sentence, removal proceedings were initiated against him under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). Freza told the IJ that he had attempted to contact pro bono legal organizations, but none could take his case; he had no resources. At Freza’s second master calendar hearing in February 2020, the IJ proceeded with Freza pro se. On March 18, Freza applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. Due to staffing shortages during the pandemic, Freza’s third hearing occurred in October 2020, with Freza appearing pro se via video. The merits hearing was set for December and later rescheduled for January 2021. A pro bono attorney first spoke to Freza the day before the hearing.The IJ denied her motion to continue the hearing for 30 days, stating that Freza had been aware of his merits hearing “for quite some time.” The merits hearing continued with Freza proceeding pro se and testifying about his experiences of and fears of future violence. The BIA affirmed the removal order. The Third Circuit vacated. The IJ’s denial of a continuance for Freza’s counsel to prepare to adequately represent him violated Freza’s right to counsel. View "Freza v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Petitioner a native and citizen of Mexico, sought review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision affirming the decision of an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) denying Petitioner’s application for cancellation of removal. Petitioner’s application rested on his assertion that removing him from the United States would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to his three young, U.S.-citizen children, whose mother, Petitioner testified, was unable to care for them. Petitioner sought a brief continuance of the merits proceeding to enable him to present live testimony from an expert and three others regarding his children’s health, the family’s circumstances, and the nature and severity of the hardship that his removal would cause. The IJ denied the requested continuance as well as an alternative request to permit the expert to testify by telephone and then found Petitioner ineligible for cancellation on the ground that he failed to establish the necessary hardship. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.   The Second Circuit granted Petitioner’s petition. The court concluded that the agency abused its discretion in denying the brief continuance that Petitioner sought. The IJ’s denial fell outside the range of permissible decisions because it prevented Petitioner from presenting relevant and material testimony in support of his application with regard to the precise ground on which the BIA ruling turned. View "Martinez Roman v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied Petitioner’s cancellation of removal concluding that his receipt of temporary protected status (TPS) was not admission and, therefore, he could not meet the statutory requirement that he has seven years of continuous residence in the United States after admission. The BIA also denied Petitioner’s application for asylum concluding that his 2016 domestic-violence conviction was a “particularly serious crime” that barred him from relief. Petitioner challenges the BIA’s decision raising two primary arguments: (1) under Ninth Circuit precedent, his TPS does constitute an admission “in any status” under the cancellation statute, 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(a), and (2) the BIA applied an improper legal standard in deciding that his 2016 conviction was for a particularly serious crime.   The Ninth Circuit filed: (1) an order amending the opinion filed June 28, 2022, otherwise denying the petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc and stating that no further petitions for rehearing would be accepted, and (2) an amended opinion denying Petitioner’s petition for review of the BIA decision. In the amended opinion, the panel held that: (1) Petitioner’s receipt TPS was not an admission, and he, therefore, could not meet the statutory requirement that he has seven years of continuous residence in the United States after admission for purposes of lawful permanent resident cancellation of removal; and (2) the BIA properly concluded that Petitioner’s domestic-violence conviction was a particularly serious crime (“PSC”) that barred him from obtaining asylum. The panel rejected Petitioner’s argument that the BIA legally erred in its PSC determination by considering the cumulative effect of his three domestic-violence convictions. View "JOSE HERNANDEZ V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law