Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Baan Rao Thai Restaurant and plaintiffs seek review of a consular officer's decision to deny visas for plaintiffs, asserting their claims fall within one of the consular nonreviewability doctrine's narrow exceptions.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint on the merits, rejecting plaintiffs' contention that the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States and Thailand expressly provides that judicial review is available. The court concluded that access provisions were longstanding and well understood at the time the U.S.-Thailand Treaty was entered into—and that understanding was that the provisions relate to procedural rights. In this case, plaintiffs' argument seeks to fashion a longstanding, common and well understood treaty provision into something it is not. The court also explained, as recently clarified by the United States Supreme Court, that a dismissal pursuant to the consular nonreviewability doctrine is a dismissal on the merits. View "Baan Rao Thai Restaurant v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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Nkomo came to the U.S. from Zimbabwe in 1985 and became a lawful permanent resident in 1992. In 2017, she was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, an aggravated felony. In removal proceedings, Nkomo applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT. Nkomo’s U.S. citizen husband, Witkowski, then filed an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. Witkowski was incarcerated; it was difficult for him to attend an interview. The IJ granted a continuance of Nkomo’s removal proceedings. Nkomo informed DHS that the IJ had adjourned proceedings until February 22, 2018, to allow for adjudication of the I-130 petition. DHS confirmed that it required Witkowski's presence. With the I-130 petition still pending, the IJ denied Nkomo’s removal objections. The BIA affirmed. Nkomo unsuccessfully moved to remand, arguing that the immigration court lacked jurisdiction because she was given a defective notice to appear.DHS did not set a date to interview Witkowski about the I-130 petition until Nkomo petitioned for a writ of mandamus. In March 2019. Nkomo attended the interview, but Witkowski’s presence was waived. DHS granted the petition. Nkomo moved to reopen her removal proceedings, emphasizing the government’s delay and that she was likely to succeed on the merits because she could show extreme hardship. The BIA denied the motion to reopen as untimely because it was filed more than 90 days after the removal order. The Third Circuit vacated. Nkomo put the BIA on notice of her equitable tolling claim and the Board itself raised the issue. The BIA’s suggestion that it did not have the authority to make decisions on equitable grounds was “perplexing.” View "Nkomo v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former alien detainee, filed suit alleging that CoreCivic's work programs are not voluntary. Plaintiff claimed that CoreCivic forced her to clean detention facilities, cook meals for company events, engage in clerical work, provide barber services for fellow detainees, maintain landscaping, and other labors. Furthermore, if she refused, CoreCivic would impose more severe living conditions, physical restraints, and deprivation of basic human needs.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of CoreCivic's motion to dismiss under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. 1589(a). The court concluded that sections 1589(a) and 1595 impose civil liability on "[w]hoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person by any one of, or by any combination of" four coercive methods. The court rejected CoreCivic's contention that this language does not capture labor performed in work programs in a federal immigration detention setting. The court explained that nothing in the text supports this claim; CoreCivic is clearly an entity covered by the term "whoever;" and it has clearly "obtain[ed]" the labor of these alien detainees. The court rejected CoreCivic's remaining claims to the contrary and declined to apply the rule of lenity. Because on its face section 1589 unambiguously protects labor performed in work programs in federal immigration detention facilities, the court concluded that the "judicial inquiry is complete." View "Gonzalez v. CoreCivic, Inc." on Justia Law

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Gear, a native of Australia, moved to Hawaii to work. Gear’s employer applied for, and Gear received, an “H-1B” nonimmigrant visa. Gear later returned from visiting Australia with a rifle. Gear was fired and needed a new visa. Gear created a new company and obtained a new H-1B visa. A DHS agent learned Gear was present on an H-1B visa and bragged about owning firearms, and obtained a search warrant. Before the search, Gear stated, “he couldn’t possess a firearm … because he was not a U.S. citizen.” Gear stated his ex-wife had shipped a rifle and gun safe to Hawaii but he claimed they had been discarded because “he couldn’t have it.” Gear eventually admitted that the gun and safe were in the garage.He was charged under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) for possessing a firearm while being an alien who had been admitted under a nonimmigrant visa. The jury was instructed the government had to prove Gear “knowingly possessed” the rifle, that had been transported in foreign commerce, and that Gear had been admitted under a nonimmigrant visa. Before Gear was sentenced, the Supreme Court decided Rehaif, holding that under section 922(g), the government must prove the defendant “knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm.”The Ninth Circuit affirmed Gear’s conviction. While the government must prove the defendant knew he had a nonimmigrant visa, the erroneous jury instructions did not affect Gear’s substantial rights because the record overwhelmingly indicates that he knew it was illegal for him to possess a firearm. View "United States v. Gear" on Justia Law

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In 1990, Muthana was appointed as the First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Yemen to the U.N. In 1994, Yemen terminated Muthana and required him to surrender his diplomatic credentials and Muthana's daughter, Hoda, was born in New Jersey. In 1995, the U.N. notified the State Department that Yemen had terminated Muthana from his diplomatic post. Muthana, his wife, and Hoda’s older siblings became naturalized citizens. Muthana applied for Hoda’s U.S. passport, which issued in 2005. In 2014, Hoda traveled to Syria and joined ISIS as a spokeswoman, advocating the killing of Americans. She married two ISIS fighters in succession and had a child, Doe. In 2016, the State Department revoked Hoda’s passport. In 2018, Hoda and Doe fled to a camp in Syria. Secretary of State Pompeo issued a statement that Hoda is not a U.S. citizen. The president tweeted his approval. Muthana alleged these statements effectively revoked his daughter’s and grandson’s U.S. citizenship.The D.C. Circuit affirmed the rejection of his claims. Hoda’s father possessed diplomatic immunity when she was born, rendering her ineligible for citizenship by birth under the Fourteenth Amendment and her son ineligible for 8 U.S.C. 1401(g) citizenship. A child born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomat is not born “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. The court dismissed, for lack of jurisdiction, Muthana’s claim seeking to compel the U.S. to assist in bringing Hoda and Doe to the U.S. The court dismissed, for lack of standing, Muthana's request for a declaratory judgment that if he sent money and supplies to his daughter and grandson, he would not violate the prohibition on providing material support for terrorism, 18 U.S.C. 2339B; Muthana failed to allege a personal injury to his constitutional rights. View "Muthana v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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Meraz-Saucedo, a citizen of Mexico, is married to a Mexican citizen with whom he has young U.S.-citizen children. Meraz-Saucedo first attempted to enter the U.S. in 2003 and was returned to Mexico. He re-entered the U.S. without inspection in 2004. In 2013, he was served in removal proceedings, 8 U.S.C. 1229(a). The notice did not contain a specific date or time for the initial hearing. On December 4, 2013, Meraz-Saucedo received a Notice of Hearing, informing him of the date and time. Meraz-Saucedo appeared before the IJ with counsel, did not object to the defective notice, conceded removability under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i), and informed the IJ that he sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture, based on his purported fear of persecution and torture if removed to Mexico. He testified about physical abuse and threats his family received from the Sinaloa Cartel.The IJ denied relief. While his appeal was pending, he sought remand to apply for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b). The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Meraz-Saucedo forfeited his arguments concerning the defective notice and failed to present sufficient evidence that he would be tortured at the hands of, or with the acquiescence of, a government official. View "Meraz-Saucedo v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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Diaz entered the U.S. without inspection in 1995. He was placed in deportation proceedings. The notice of his hearing did not reach him. Zelaya failed to appear. A final order of deportation was entered in his absence. Zelaya later left the U.S. but re-entered before December 30, 1998. In 2014, following a traffic-related arrest, Zelaya successfully moved to reopen his deportation case. At a 2018 hearing, Zelaya moved for administrative closure of his deportation proceeding to allow “repapering,” by which a deportation proceeding that began under pre-1996 law can be converted into a cancellation-of-removal proceeding under 1996 legislation, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b), to enable Zelaya to seek cancellation of removal, for which he is apparently legally eligible.The BIA ordered voluntary deportation, citing the Attorney General’s 2018 opinion, which sharply restricted the ability of immigration judges and the Board to close cases administratively. The Seventh Circuit granted a petition for review, noting that it has previously held that the Attorney General’s directive was contrary to law; “immigration regulations plainly grant immigration judges broad authority and discretion to take ‘any action … that is appropriate and necessary for the disposition’” of their cases. The BIA did not exercise its discretion according to law, guided by factors enumerated in earlier precedent. View "Diaz v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the IJ's and BIA's decisions denying petitioner's request to defer his removal to Somalia under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner had entered the United States in 2001 under a false passport and was previously ordered removed. Petitioner then moved to reopen his case, which the BIA granted, remanding the case to the IJ where petitioner's request was denied.The court affirmed the IJ's and BIA's judgments, holding that substantial evidence supported the conclusions that petitioner was unlikely to be tortured for minority-clan membership. The court rejected petitioner's challenge to the IJ's and BIA's conclusions that any torture by Al-Shabaab does not qualify for CAT relief because the Somali government would not acquiesce in such torture. Rather, the court concluded that substantial evidence supported the IJ's and BIA's conclusions that the Somali government was unlikely to acquiesce in any torture by Al-Shabaab. Finally, the court concluded that the IJ and BIA properly considered the risk of torture in the aggregate. View "Hassan v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, aliens unlawfully in the United States seeking U-Visas, filed suit alleging that DHS unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed adjudication of their U-Visa petitions and their applications for work authorization pending U-Visa approval.The Fourth Circuit held that it lacked the power to review plaintiffs' work-authorization claims here because the agency is not required to adjudicate plaintiffs' requests. The court explained that, under the Administrative Procedure Act and All Writs Act, it can only compel faster agency action if the agency is required to act. In this case, neither congressional statutes nor agency regulations compel the agency to adjudicate these requested pre-waiting-list work authorizations. However, the court may review plaintiffs' claim that DHS unreasonably delayed adjudicating their U-Visa petitions. Furthermore, plaintiffs have pleaded sufficient facts to avoid dismissal of their claim for unreasonable delay in placing them on the waiting list. Accordingly, the court dismissed plaintiffs' claims relating to their requests for pre-waiting-list work authorization and remanded plaintiffs' claim relating to U-Visa adjudications. View "Fernandez Gonzalez v. Cuccinelli" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241, and remanded for application of the standard from Mt. Healthy City Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274 (1977), the default rule for First Amendment retaliation claims.The panel held that the Supreme Court's recent decision in Nieves v. Bartlett, 139 S. Ct. 1715 (2019), holding that the presence of probable cause generally defeats a retaliatory criminal arrest claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, does not apply to a noncitizen's claim that ICE unconstitutionally retaliated against him for his speech when revoking his bond and rearresting him. In this case, petitioner had been detained by ICE and released on bond in 2018. After petitioner spoke publicly at a rally in 2019 and read his poem, entitled "Dear America," in which he criticized ICE practices, ICE revoked his bond and re-arrested him. The panel explained that Nieves is not applicable because problems of causation that may counsel for a no probable cause standard are less acute in the habeas context. Furthermore, Nieves arose out of the criminal arrest context where "evidence of the presence or absence of probable cause for the arrest will be available in virtually every retaliatory arrest case." The panel explained that this reasoning does not translate to the immigration bond revocation context. View "Bello-Reyes v. Gaynor" on Justia Law