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DeKelaita provided legal representation for immigrants applying for asylum under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)(A). Applicants for asylum must sit for an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer and must provide a translator if one is needed. DeKelaita’s clients were primarily Assyrian or Chaldean Christians from Muslim‐ruled countries, such as Iraq. Many had suffered persecution, but their eligibility was doubtful because they either had already found refuge in another county or their history failed to meet the requirements for asylum. For at least nine clients, DeKelaita concealed evidence that the applicant had obtained legal status in a safe country or fabricated information about persecution. At the interview DeKelaita was able to ensure that applicants stuck to the script by coaching interpreters. He was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the government and for three false statements he either made or induced on his final (Albqal’s) application. The court vacated the three convictions related to Albqal’s application. The jury unanimously found only one false statement in Albqal’s application, but the court ruled that this statement was immaterial to his receipt of asylum. The court concluded that the government had failed to prove an element of the substantive crimes, leaving only the conspiracy conviction, which the Seventh Circuit affirmed. DeKelaita argued that the government failed to prove an overarching conspiracy. The jury had sufficient evidence to convict DeKelaita for either the charged conspiracy or a subsection of it. View "United States v. Dekelaita" on Justia Law

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Taylor, a citizen of Ireland, entered the U.S. in 2000 on a visitor’s visa. In 2008, Taylor was the victim of perjury, a qualifying crime under the Victims Protection Act., 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(U), which created the non-immigrant U-Visa program. The Act became law in 2000, but no regulations were issued for seven years. The issuance of U-Visas in large numbers began in 2009. The FBI certified that Taylor had provided the necessary assistance with the prosecution of the crime, Taylor applied for a U-visa in 2014. U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determined that Taylor was eligible, but placed him on a waiting list because the statute prohibits the issuance of more than 10,000 U-visas per year. USCIS granted Taylor discretionary relief that defers removal and confers employment authorization benefits. Taylor filed suit, alleging that USCIS’s delay in promulgating regulations caused the backlog and asked the court to compel USCIS to immediately issue 80,000 U-visas to those on the waiting list. The court determined that Taylor lacked standing and dismissed his complaint. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The agency lacks the statutory authority to give the relief sought. The U-visa limit was reached in 2016 and 2017. Taylor lacks constitutional standing; a court cannot review his claims at all, nor determine whether there was an unreasonable delay or a non-discretionary duty under the APA to compel USCIS to issue U-visas. View "Taylor v. McCament" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision that petitioner's felony hit and run conviction under California Vehicle Code 20001(a) was a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), rendering him ineligible for cancellation of removal. In this case, petitioner admitted in his plea agreement that he was involved in a car accident that led to injury. The panel applied the modified categorical approach and held that a felony conviction for traditional hit and run causing injury qualifies as a CIMT under current controlling precedent. View "Conejo-Bravo v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Kamar, born in Lebanon in 1964, moved to Jordan as a child. The family is Catholic, but adheres to Islamic cultural practices. Kamar’s mother is a U.S. citizen. Her mother, some siblings, and cousins live in Jordan. Kamar was admitted to the U.S. as a visitor in 1999. She changed her status to an F-1 student in 2001. Kamar’s F-1 status was terminated when she left school. Kamar had three sons, then divorced in 2006. Her sons live in Canada. In 2007, Kamar married during her fourth pregnancy. In 2007, Kamar was charged as removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(C)(1) because she failed to comply with the conditions of her F-1 status. Seeking withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture, Kamar alleged that if she returned to Jordan, under Islamic tradition, she would be subject to an honor killing by her youngest male relative for bringing shame to her family by getting pregnant out of wedlock. Kamar testified that if she sought help from the Jordanian government, it would place her in prison and place her son in an orphanage. An IJ denied Kamar’s application. The BIA affirmed, finding that Kamar did not establish that future persecution in Jordan was objectively reasonable, did not demonstrate a pattern persecuting persons similarly situated to her and the Jordanian government is working to protect victims. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The record “overwhelming supports” that Kamar will be persecuted if she returns; governors in Jordan routinely abuse the law and use imprisonment to protect potential honor crime victims. View "Kamar v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The question presented in this appeal for the Tenth Circuit's review was whether Petitioner Juan Lucio-Rayos’s municipal theft conviction qualified as a crime involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”), which would have made him ineligible for cancellation of removal. Lucio-Rayos was convicted under a divisible municipal code provision that set forth several different theft offenses, some of which qualified as CIMTs and some of which did not. Applying a modified categorical approach, the Tenth Circuit determined it was not possible to tell which theft offense was the basis of Lucio-Rayos’s conviction. The Court held it was Lucio-Rayos’s burden to establish his eligibility for cancellation of removal, and because the record was inconclusive to this end, the Court upheld the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”)’s determination that Lucio-Rayos did not show that he was eligible for cancellation of removal. Furthermore, the immigration judge (“IJ”) did not deprive Lucio-Rayos of due process by refusing to recuse from hearing his case. View "Lucio-Rayos v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native of El Salvador, petitioned for review of the BIA's order upholding the denial of his motion to reopen removal proceedings and declining to reopen proceedings sua sponte or to grant administrative closure. The Fifth Circuit denied the petition in part because the BIA did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the petition and declining to administratively close the case. In this case, the controlling statutory requirements, of which petitioner had notice, obligated him to keep the immigration court apprised of his current contact information. Therefore, the court rejected petitioner's claims of lack of notice and violation of due process. The court dismissed in part because it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's refusal to reopen proceedings sua sponte. View "Hernandez-Castillo v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision holding that petitioner was statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal for failure to establish seven years continuous residence in the United States after being "admitted in any status." In this case, petitioner was "admitted" in 1993 when he was waved across the border after inspection by an immigration officer. The panel held that petitioner's procedurally regular admission in 1993 was an admission in any status under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(a)(2), because the phrase "in any status" plainly encompasses every status recognized by immigration statutes, lawful or unlawful. View "Villalba Saldivar v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Acquaah, now age 63, came from Ghana to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa and obtained conditional permanent resident status based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen. His application to remove residency conditions began proceedings that have spanned more than 25 years and included a charge that the marriage was entered into for the sole purpose of procuring entry as an immigrant. While those proceedings were pending, his first marriage ended, he remarried a U.S. citizen, and the two had a daughter. He obtained permanent residency under a different name on the basis of that second marriage. After discovery that he had used a new name, Acquaah was charged as statutorily deportable, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(C)(i), and ineligible for a fraud waiver. The Seventh Circuit remanded. At his final hearing, Acquaah faced two charges: a 1992 charge of deportability based on termination of his permanent resident status and a later charge that he was deportable as an alien who by fraud or willful misrepresentation sought to procure immigration. The IJ found only the charge relating to the termination of conditional residency, sustained. The Board treated the specific statutory charge that the government decided to lodge and prove as dispositive of whether the waiver is available, but should have considered whether the charge sustained against Acquaah is related to fraud. View "Acquaah v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, petitioner and his father sought review of the BIA's holding that petitioner was inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to adjust his citizenship status because his conviction for misprision of a felony is a crime involving moral turpitude. Furthermore, the government challenged two aspects of the district court's decision. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the BIA's order in the first appeal and denied the petition for review, holding that the BIA did not err in holding that misprision of a felony is a crime of moral turpitude. Although the district court correctly held that the residency requirements of 8 U.S.C. 1401 and 1409 violate equal protection, the court reversed the district court's judgment that petitioner is a United States citizen under a constitutional reading of those statutes in light of the limited remedy the Supreme Court announced for that violation. View "Villegas-Sarabia v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Georgia appealed a habeas court’s order granting relief to appellee Thomas Addaquay on the ground that his plea counsel was constitutionally ineffective in incorrectly advising him of the immigration consequences of his plea of guilty. In 2012, Addaquay pled guilty to criminal damage to property in the second degree for conduct that occurred in 2002 and was sentenced as for a misdemeanor to 11 months and 29 days on probation. At that time, Addaquay was a “green card” holder and lawful permanent resident of the United States. Addaquay did not claim that the deportation consequences of his plea were unclear or uncertain, but instead claimed that he was clearly deportable based on his plea of guilty to criminal damage to property in the second degree and that plea counsel performed deficiently in telling him that he would not be deported. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded this claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was without merit: the decisive issue was whether Addaquay committed the crime within five years of his “date of admission” to this country. Addaquay failed to show that he was deportable under the removal statute, 8 USC 1227. View "Georgia v. Addaquay" on Justia Law