Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Aristy-Rosa, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was admitted to the U.S. in 1993 as a lawful permanent resident. Several years later, he was convicted of attempted criminal sale of cocaine and was sentenced to five years’ probation. Aristy-Rosa received a notice, charging him as subject to removal because he had committed a crime relating to a controlled substance, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i), his controlled substances conviction constituted an aggravated felony, section 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), and he was an alien who was inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) at the time of his application for adjustment of status. Aristy-Rosa conceded removability and sought no relief from removal. An IJ ordered Aristy-Rosa removed. Aristy-Rosa did not appeal but later filed unsuccessful motions to reopen his removal proceedings to apply for adjustment of status and other relief.In 2017, New York Governor Cuomo fully and unconditionally pardoned Aristy-Rosa for his controlled substance conviction. Aristy-Rosa moved to reopen his removal proceedings, arguing that the pardon eliminated the basis for his removal. The IJ denied the motion, reasoning that it was time- and number-barred and that a pardon fails to extinguish the basis for removal where the underlying conviction was for a controlled substance offense. The BIA and Third Circuit dismissed his appeals. Section 1227(a)(2)(B), which provides for the removal of an alien convicted under any law relating to a controlled substance, contains no pardon waiver. View "Aristy-Rosa v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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In consolidated appeals, the issue they presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's review centered on whether the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA) empowered judges to detain defendants who were non-citizens to prevent immigration officials from removing them from the country before trial. Defendants Juan Molchor and Jose Rios were arrested and charged with aggravated assault and criminal mischief. Pretrial Services prepared Public Safety Assessments (PSAs) for both defendants, rating both defendants 1 out of 6 for failure to appear (the lowest level of risk), and 2 out of 6 for new criminal activity. Neither defendant had any pending charges, prior convictions, prior failures to appear, or prior juvenile adjudications. Pretrial Services recommended that both be released with monthly reporting. The State moved for pretrial detention, claiming defendants posed a flight risk because they were undocumented immigrants. The State presented no evidence that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was interested in either defendant. The court ordered both defendants detained pretrial, noting that, but for their immigration status, both would likely have been released. The Appellate Division reversed. The Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Division that the DJRA did not authorize judges to detain defendants to thwart their possible removal by ICE: "it would be preferable for ICE to refrain from deporting defendants while they await trial for many reasons. If removal proceedings occur while a case is pending, we again urge ICE officials to work with prosecutors to allow pending criminal charges to be resolved." View "New Jersey v. Lopez-Carrera" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review challenging petitioner's removability and seeking asylum. Petitioner, a Somali native who is part of a minority Islamic sect called Sufism, fled Somalia to escape the country's civil war. He came to the United States in 2000 and his entire family resides in the United States, including his nine children.The court concluded that petitioner's conviction for possession of khat relates to a federal controlled substance under 8 U.S.C.  1227(a)(2)(B)(i). In this case, khat contains at least one of two substances listed on the federal drug schedules and thus petitioner is removable. In regard to asylum, the court applied de novo review and concluded that petitioner's evidence was insufficient to establish the social distinctiveness of his proposed social group: those suffering from mental health illnesses, specifically post traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, the Board did not err in concluding that the IJ's factual finding that the Somali government was helpless against al-Shabaab was clearly erroneous. View "Ahmed v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied the petition filed by Petitioner, a Salvadoran national, seeking judicial review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upholding an adverse decision by an immigration judge (IJ) denying Petitioner's application for withholding of removal, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief.Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) substantial evidence in the record supported the agency's determination that Petitioner failed to show an entitlement to withholding of removal based on a clear probability of either past or future religious persecution; (2) Petitioner waived his argument that the BIA erred in rejecting his "social group" claim; and (3) the BIA did not abuse its discretion by not remanding the case to the IJ for further proceedings. View "Sanchez-Vasquez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a Cuban citizen, petitioned for review of the BIA's order affirming the denial of his applications for asylum and withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).The Eleventh Circuit granted the petition in part because the IJ and the BIA failed to provide reasoned consideration of petitioner's evidence of his well-founded fear of future persecution based on a pattern or practice of persecution toward dissident journalists in Cuba. However, the court denied the petition for review of petitioner's asylum claim based on past persecution because substantial evidence supports the BIA's conclusion that petitioner did not demonstrate that he suffered past persecution. View "Cabrera Martinez v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of appellant's amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Appellant challenged the denial of his passport applications and sought a declaration of U.S. citizenship under 8 U.S.C. 1503(a). Appellant also brought a statutory claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and a constitutional claim under the Fifth Amendment. Appellant conceded in district court that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider his first two claims (his section 1503(a) claim and his statutory APA claim), leaving only his constitutional claim, which the district court concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider.The court held that Congress intended section 1503(a) to be the exclusive remedy for a person within the United States to seek a declaration of U.S. nationality following an agency or department's denial of a privilege or right of citizenship upon the ground that the person is not a U.S. national. Therefore, the "any other statute" proviso of section 702 maintains the United States' sovereign immunity against petitioner's constitutional claim because the statute of limitations contained in section 1503(a) has run and thus expressly forbids the relief sought. View "Cambranis v. Blinken" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner's motion to reopen the BIA's decision denying Petitioner's application for cancellation of his removal, holding that any error was harmless.After Petitioner, a citizen of Guatemala, was issued a notice to appear Petitioner applied for cancellation of his removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1). The immigration judge denied the application, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed. Petitioner later filed a motion to reopen the BIA decision, arguing that his prior counsel provided ineffective assistance. The BIA denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that equitable tolling did not apply to toll the statutory deadline for filing the motion. View "Quiroa-Motta v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision, holding that the BIA permissibly concluded that Oregon Revised Statute 164.225 is a crime involving moral turpitude and that precedent forecloses the constitutional vagueness argument. The panel applied the categorical approach and concluded that the Oregon statute is overbroad as to intent and as to the type of structure involved. Furthermore, the Oregon statute is divisible where, by its plain text, the statute appears divisible between burglary of a dwelling on the one hand, and burglary of a non-dwelling on the other. In this case, petitioner's conviction for first-degree burglary, when involving a dwelling, is a CIMT and thus he is statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal. Finally, the court concluded that precedent foreclosed petitioner's argument that the phrase "crime involving moral turpitude" is unconstitutionally vague. View "Diaz-Flores v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioners Ana Orellana-Recinos and her son, Kevin Rosales-Orellana, natives and citizens of El Salvador, sought review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) order dismissing their appeal of an immigration judge's (IJ) dismissal of their applications for asylum. They contended they were persecuted because of their membership in a particular social group: namely, Kevin’s immediate family. Even assuming that Kevin’s immediate family qualified as a particular social group under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the BIA properly found that Petitioners were not persecuted “on account of” their membership in that group. In addition, the Court rejected the government’s argument that the Court lacked jurisdiction to review Petitioners’ challenge to the BIA’s decision. View "Orellana-Recinos v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review of the BIA's decision reversing the IJ's grant of asylum and withholding of removal to petitioner. The panel held that it was compelled to conclude that petitioner established a nexus between her mistreatment and her feminist political opinion and the BIA necessarily concluded that she carried her burden to prove the other elements of her claims for asylum and withholding of removal.The panel denied the government's motion to remand so that the BIA can consider Matter of A-B- II's effect on nexus, concluding that Matter of A-B- II did not change the standard for establishing nexus, at least in this circuit. The panel has repeatedly held that political opinions encompass more than electoral politics or formal political ideology or action. Like the Third Circuit, the panel had little doubt that feminism qualifies as a political opinion within the meaning of the relevant statutes. In this case, substantial evidence does not support the BIA's conclusion that the record lacks evidence of a nexus between petitioner's persecution and her feminist political opinion. Rather, the panel concluded that petitioner had an actual or imputed political opinion and she was persecuted because of that political opinion. Finally, the petition presented a recognized exception to the ordinary remand rule under I.N.S. v. Ventura, 537 U.S. 12 (2002) (per curiam). The panel remanded for the Attorney General to exercise his discretion in determining whether to grant petitioner asylum. If he does not grant asylum, petitioner shall receive withholding of removal. View "Rodriguez Tornes v. Garland" on Justia Law