Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision dismissing petitioners' appeal of the IJ's denial of their application for relief under, inter alia, the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioners alleged that their due process rights were infringed when the IJ failed to develop the record with respect to their CAT claim and argued that this warrants remand for further consideration. Assuming without deciding that a due process violation occurred, the court held that petitioners failed to show that the outcome of the proceedings would have been different if the IJ had developed the record further. View "Arteaga-Ramirez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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In 1992 Ricketts pled guilty to embezzlement and transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in sexual activity. The government maintained that Ricketts was a citizen of Jamaica. Ricketts argued that he was a U.S. citizen. The IJ rejected that claim; the BIA dismissed his appeal. While his petition for review was pending, Ricketts was removed to Jamaica. His petition and motion were “procedurally terminated without judicial action” in 2000. Ricketts persuaded the Jamaican Constabulary Force to investigate his citizenship; they agreed with him and he was returned to the U.S. in 2003. In 2005, while Ricketts was in state custody for a criminal theft conviction, DHS reinstated his order of removal. Based on the Jamaican report stating that he is an American citizen, he moved to reopen his removal proceedings. The BIA dismissed his motions, citing the post-departure bar. The Eastern District of New York rejected Ricketts's claim that he was born in Brooklyn in 1964 as Paul Miles and changed his name for religious reasons. He had submitted various official records, including a birth certificate, with Miles's name crossed out and “Junior Mohammed Ricketts” written above it. The Second Circuit affirmed. The Third Circuit then rejected his petition for review from the BIA dismissal. Ricketts’s citizenship claim is the only basis on which he says he is entitled to relief from the order of removal and he cannot now rely on that claim. View "Ricketts v. Attorney General of the United States" on Justia Law

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8 U.S.C. 1155 commits visa petition revocation decisions to the Secretary's discretion. Plaintiff and his stepson appealed the district court's dismissal of their complaint alleging that the USCIS unlawfully revoked their I-130 family visa petition. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that 8 U.S.C. 1155 is discretionary and thus the court lacked jurisdiction to review the agency's revocation due to 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2)(B)(ii). The court emphasized that the dismissal of these claims in this proceeding for lack of jurisdiction does not preclude this court, or any other court of appeals, from reviewing them under section 1252(a)(2)(D) upon a petition from a removal proceeding. View "Polfliet v. Cuccinelli" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, representatives of a certified class of aliens who are subject to final orders of removal and are detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6) within the Ninth Circuit, filed suit challenging their prolonged detention without an individualized bond hearing. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction requiring the Government to provide each class member detained for six months or longer with a bond hearing before an immigration judge where the burden is on the Government to justify continued detention. The panel held that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their section 1231(a)(6) statutory claim. Although the panel recognized some tension between Diouf v. Napolitano and Jennings v. Rodriguez, it cannot conclude that the decisions are so fundamentally inconsistent that it can no longer apply Diouf II without running afoul of Jennings. Therefore, the panel held that it remains bound by Diouff II. The panel also held that the district court did not err in relying on Diouf II's construction of section 1231(a)(6) to require a bond hearing before an IJ after six months of detention for an alien whose release or removal is not imminent. The panel held that, because Jennings did not invalidate its constitutional due process holding in Singh v. Holder, the district court also properly required the Government to bear a clear and convincing burden of proof at such a bond hearing to justify an alien's continued detention. The panel rejected the Government's remaining challenges and held that the preliminary injunction complies with a proper reading of Clark v. Martinez. View "Aleman Gonzalez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, representatives of a certified class of aliens with final removal orders who are placed in withholding-only removal proceedings and who are detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6) in the Western District of Washington, filed suit challenging their detention. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and permanent injunction insofar as they conform to its construction of section 1231(a)(6) in Diouf v. Napolitano. The panel also affirmed insofar as the judgment and permanent injunction require the Government to the satisfy the constitutional burden of proof it identified in Singh v. Holder. However, unlike Aleman Gonzalez v. Barr, decided on the same day, this appeal presented the panel with a different question regarding its construction of section 1231(a)(6). The panel held that the district court erroneously imposed the requirement that the Government provide class members with additional bond hearings as a statutory matter, because the panel did not construe section 1231(a)(6) as requiring this in Diouf II, nor does it find any support for this requirement. Therefore, the panel reversed in part, and vacated the judgment and permanent injunction, remanding for further proceedings. View "Omar Flores v. Godfrey" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's applications for asylum and withholding of removal. The court held that petitioner failed to establish a well-founded fear of future persecution under the unable-and-unwilling standard. In this case, based on the country reports and her own testimony that she did not and would not contact the Mexican police, the court held that petitioner failed to show that the Mexican government is unable or unwilling to protect her. Furthermore, even assuming petitioner's asylum application was timely, the court found no basis for granting her petition for review as she did not show a well-founded fear of future persecution. Finally, even assuming "Mexican females" is a cognizable social group and that petitioner is a member of both the "Mexican females" and "unable to leave" groups, the court found that she failed to meet her burden of proving future persecution and is thus not entitled to relief. View "Jimenez Galloso v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for review of the BIA's final order dismissing petitioner's appeal from the IJ's denial of her claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture (CAT) relief. The court held that the BIA and the IJ did not err in considering petitioner's credible fear interview when determining her lack of credibility; the court lacked jurisdiction to review petitioner's challenge to the standard of review applied by the BIA in upholding the IJ's adverse credibility determination; to the extent petitioner asserts that the BIA must rely on all of the IJ's findings in support of an adverse credibility determination, she points to no authority to support this proposition; and, considering the totality of the circumstances, no factfinder was compelled to conclude that petitioner was credible. View "Avelar-Oliva v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the United States and the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (collectively, the Government) on Plaintiff's claims that the inclusion of the phrase "so help me God" at the end of the both of allegiance administered at United States naturalization ceremonies is unlawful and unconstitutional, holding that the district court correctly denied Plaintiff's claims. In her complaint, Plaintiff argued that the inclusion of "so help me God" as a means of completing the naturalization oath violates the First and Fifth Amendments and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-2000bb-4 (RFRA). The district court granted summary judgment on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the phrase "so help me God" in the oath does not violate the Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, the RFRA, Equal Protection, or the Due Process Clause. View "Perrier-Bilbo v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted in part and denied in part a petition for review of the BIA's decision reversing the IJ's grant of waiver of inadmissibility and deferral of removal to petitioner. After determining that the court had jurisdiction to review petitioner's arguments and that the criminal-alien bar did not preclude review, the court held that the BIA did not supplant the IJ's finding that petitioner likely faced hardship, and suspected that any discrepancies in wording were inadvertant and did not cross the line separating permissible weighing from impermissible fact finding. However, further proceedings are required on petitioner's request for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that what is missing from the decision is a finding that petitioner would "more likely than not" suffer torture in Somalia. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to the BIA to remand to the IJ to make this finding. View "Kassim v. Barr" on Justia Law

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An applicant cannot be regarded as personally responsible for failing to maintain lawful status when that failure occurs due to a mistake on her lawyer's part. An applicant who relies on the assistance of counsel to maintain lawful status will usually have no basis to question the soundness of the advice she receives from her lawyer. The Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for adjustment of status on the ground that she is ineligible for relief under 8 U.S.C. 1255(c)(2). The panel held that, although substantial evidence supported the IJ's finding that petitioner's attorney never filed a corrected I-129, petitioner reasonably relied on her attorney's assurances that he had filed the corrected I-129 petition necessary to maintain her lawful immigration status, and she remains eligible for adjustment of status because her failure to maintain lawful status continuously since entering the United States occurred through no fault of her own. The panel remanded for consideration of the IJ's alternative ground for denial of relief. View "Peters v. Barr" on Justia Law