Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Yogi Metals Group, Inc. applied for an EB-1C visa for one of its employees. The United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied the application. Yogi Metals and the employee filed suit in federal district court, arguing that USCIS acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the application. The district court granted summary judgment to USCIS.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Appellants argued that USCIS acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the EB-1C visa petition having granted the employee a temporary L-1A visa, with similar requirements. But Appellants did not present this argument to the district court and the court does not consider arguments first raised on appeal. Further, regardless, the deference here due the agency decision has not been overcome, discretion informed by its announced rule that the previous grant of a temporary visa does not bind USCIS to later grant a permanent visa. View "Yogi Metals Group 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 an 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 challenged the BIA’s decision raising two primary arguments: (1) under the court’s 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 denied his petition for review. The court explained that considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, 141 S. Ct. 1809 (2021), and the plain language of the TPS statute, 8 U.S.C. Section 1254a(c)(5), the court concluded that the granting of TPS does not constitute being “admitted in any status” under the cancellation statute. The court held that Sanchez effectively overruled circuit precedent requiring consideration of the benefits conferred by an alien’s immigration status in determining whether the alien had been admitted. The court wrote that Sanchez is clear that TPS does not constitute an admission to the United States no matter how great its benefits. The court further 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

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Petitioners sought review of a December 14, 2018, decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (the "BIA") affirming a decision of an Immigration Judge (the "IJ") denying asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT").   The Second Circuit granted Petitioners' petition for review and held that to qualify as a "refugee" under the INA, a dual national asylum applicant need only show persecution in any singular country of nationality. The court explained that to be eligible for asylum and withholding of removal, an individual must be a "refugee." 8 U.S.C. Section 1158(b)(1)(A). But this is only one step in the asylum process. Even if an individual is a refugee, there are other bars to asylum, see 8 U.S.C. Sections 1158(a)(2) (exceptions to authority to apply for asylum), 1158(b)(2) (exceptions to eligibility for asylum), and even assuming all bars are overcome, the decision of whether to grant a particular asylum application is still a matter of discretion for the Attorney General. Further, the court held that to be considered a "refugee" under Section 1101(a)(42)(A), a dual national need only show persecution in any singular country of nationality. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, vacated the BIA's December 14, 2018, decision, and remanded to the BIA for further proceedings in accordance with the proper legal standard. View "Zepeda-Lopez, et al. v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The federal government may deny admission or adjustment of status to a noncitizen “likely at any time to become a public charge, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(A). For decades, “public charge” was understood to refer to noncitizens “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the meaning of “public charge” to disqualify a broader set of noncitizens from benefits. The Rule immediately generated extensive litigation.In 2020, the district court vacated the 2019 Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701. In 2021, the federal government dismissed appeals defending the 2019 Rule in courts around the country. Several states subsequently sought to intervene in the proceedings, hoping to defend the 2019 Rule; they also moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). The district court denied the motions, finding each untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to timeliness. The court declined to address other issues. View "Cook County, Illinois v. State of Texas" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of El Salvador, sought a petition for review with the Ninth Circuit after the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA")dismissed his appeal under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1229b(a). Previoulsy, Petitioner had been granted special rule cancellation of removal and adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident under section 203 of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (“NACARA”). However, in 2015, removal proceedings were initiated against Petitioner after he was convicted of a state-law drug offense. The Immigration Judge found Petitioner was removable because he was ineligible for a second grant of cancellation of a removal under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1229b(a).The Ninth Circuit affirmed the BIA, finding that a plain reading of the relevant statutory law supports the Immigration Judge's and the BIA's position. View "MANUEL HERNANDEZ V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was born to unmarried parents in Mexico. Both of his parents are now deceased. His father was a Mexican national and his mother a U.S. citizen. Petitioner entered the United States in 2000, at which point he was unaware of any claim to U.S. citizenship. Thus, when he was convicted of burglary, he admitted that he was deportable and ineligible for relief. He was removed in 2003. However, in 2014, he applied for a Certificate of Citizenship, claiming that he had acquired U.S. citizenship at birth through his father. USCIS denied Petitioner's application and he subsequently filed a petition under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1252(b)(1), along with an opposed motion to transfer his case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for a de novo determination of his citizenship claim under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1252(b)(5)(B).The Ninth Circuit determined that Petitioner presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact concerning his claim of U.S. citizenship. Thus, the court transferred Petitioner's case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for a de novo review of his citizenship claim. View "Garza-Flores v. Mayorkas" 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. Relying on Matter of J-F-F-, 23 I. & N. Dec. 912 (A.G. 2006), the Board of Immigration Appeals (“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, in granting Petitioner’s petition for review the court 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 court concluded that the Board erred by failing to assess Petitioner’s aggregate risk of torture. Discussing Cole v. Holder, 659 F.3d 762 (9th Cir. 2011), the court explained that when an applicant posits multiple theories for why he might be tortured, the relevant inquiry is whether the total probability that the applicant will be tortured exceeds 50 percent.   Here, the Board considered Petitioner’s two separate theories of torture as a single hypothetical chain of events and denied his CAT claim because the probability of that hypothetical chain occurring was not high enough. The court concluded that in doing so, the Board misapplied Cole and Matter of J-F-F-.  By requiring Petitioner to show that every step in two hypothetical chains was more likely than not to occur, the Board increased his CAT burden. View "MIGUEL VELASQUEZ-SAMAYOA V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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In a previous opinion dated September 21, 2021, the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion in this immigration case agreeing with Petitioner that the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") "abused its discretion by entirely failing to address his CAT claim." In that opinion the court noted that a claim seeking CAT relief "is separate from . . . claims for asylum and withholding of removal and should receive separate analytical attention.” Thus, the court remanded the case to the BIA to address Petitioner's claim for relief under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT").On remand, the BIA determined that Petitioner failed to meet his burden to establish a prima facie case for CAT relief because Petitioner did not provide sufficient evidence to corroborate his alleged conversion to Christianity or his bisexuality, which bears on whether Petitioner has a clear probability of being tortured if he returns to Libya.Finding no error, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of Petitioner's petition for review. View "Abushagif v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Menghistab, then a lawful U.S. permanent resident, pleaded guilty to rape in Indiana state court in 2011. The Department of Homeland Security began the process of removing him to Ethiopia. Because of his rape conviction and resulting sentence, Menghistab was barred from seeking asylum, discretionary withholding of removal, and waiver of removability. He was eligible only to apply for deferral of removal under the Convention against Torture. An immigration judge denied him that relief. The BIA affirmed.Ethiopia refused to issue Menghistab a travel document. He was released from custody in 2013 and continued to live in the United States until, in 2020, Ethiopia agreed to issue the travel document. The Department detained Menghistab pending removal. He moved to reopen his case, citing the changed circumstances in Ethiopia occasioned by the 2020 outbreak of civil war in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. The Tigray War has resulted in widespread attacks on civilians. Ethnic Eritreans, such as Menghistab, have suffered particularly severe human‐rights violations. The Board denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing.The Seventh Circuit remanded. A new hearing is needed to address the materiality of the war with respect to Menghistab’s risk of torture and whether Menghistab is an Ethiopian citizen. View "Menghistab v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner entered the United States on an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa on Dec. 29, 2009. Subsequently, she falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen to gain employment, and the Department of Homeland Security served Petitioner with a Notice to Appear, charging her with being removable under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1227(a)(1)(C)(i) (providing for the removal of an alien admitted as a nonimmigrant who has failed to maintain that nonimmigrant status or to comply with the conditions of that status) and Sec. 1227(a)(3)(D)(i) (providing for the removal of an alien who has falsely represented herself to be a United States citizen for any benefits such as employment). Petitioner proceeded pro see, explicitly waiving her right to counsel and denying the district court's offer of a continuance to secure counsel. Eventually, Petitioner obtained counsel.The Immigration Judge denied relief, and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Petitioner's request for remand after she cited a change in circumstances.The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The Immigration Judge did not deny Petitioner her right to Due Process as the Immigration Judge did not commit a "fundamental procedural error" regarding the appointment of counsel. Additionally, the Immigration Judge did not violate Petitioner's Due Process when it refused to remand based on changed circumstances. View "Flora Holmes v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law