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The Ninth Circuit adopted the persuasive reasoning of the Second Circuit and held that the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UN-CATOC) does not provide an independent basis for relief from removal in immigration proceedings. In this case, the panel denied the petition for review of the BIA's denial of withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The panel held that the BIA did not err in concluding that petitioner was not persecuted on account of his political opinion, whistleblower status, nor his membership in a particular social group of former police officers. Rather, petitioner's attackers told him that he was being attacked because of his role in a drug-trafficking investigation. The panel also held that, because the UN-CATOC has not been implemented through congressional legislation and was not self-executing as to the relief sought here, petitioner may not rely on its provisions for relief from removal. View "Sanjaa v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Chen, a lawful permanent resident who came from China at age 11, was ordered removed from the U.S. as an alien convicted of a controlled‐substance crime, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(II). He had drug convictions in 2010 and 2011. The Board of Immigration Appeals decided that Chen was ineligible for cancellation of removal because of an Illinois conviction for possessing more than 30 but not more than 500 grams of marijuana, 720 ILCS 550/5(d), which, it concluded, qualified as an aggravated felony, making Chen ineligible for relief under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(a). The Seventh Circuit remanded, concluding that the Board misapplied the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder, when it characterized Chen’s conviction as an aggravated felony. Nothing in that decision supports the conclusion that the possession of a tad more than 30 grams of marijuana—the lowest amount punishable under section 550/5(d)—can never be punished as a federal misdemeanor. View "Chen v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal for lack of jurisdiction an appeal of an IJ's negative reasonable fear determination in reinstatement removal proceedings. The panel found that the final administrative order was the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal and thus petitioner timely filed his petition for review within 30 day's of the BIA's decision. The panel also held that the government waived any challenge to the arguments raised by petitioner because the government did not offer any argument on the merits of this petition. Accordingly, the court remanded for further consideration. View "Valencia Martinez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Ataya pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. In his plea agreement, he relinquished any right to appeal his conviction or sentence “on any grounds.” Atatya nonetheless appealed. The Sixth Circuit directed the parties to brief the question of whether Ataya entered into the plea agreement as a whole knowingly and voluntarily. Ataya understood and accepted the appellate waiver’s consequences, but if he misunderstood the conviction’s key consequences, that undermines the knowingness of the appellate waiver. The district court did not inform Ataya, as Rule 11 requires, that the plea agreement required him to pay restitution and a special assessment and to forfeit the proceeds of his fraud; neither the plea agreement nor the district court mentioned that Ataya, who became a naturalized citizen after the alleged frauds, might face denaturalization as a result of his conviction. Invalidation of the agreement will require him to demonstrate “a reasonable probability that, but for the error, he would not have entered the plea.” View "United States v. Ataya" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's final order of removal. The BIA affirmed an IJ's finding that petitioner was removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(A) for having willfully made a material misrepresentation on his application to adjust his status to that of a lawful permanent resident. The court held that, because he had not been confined in a prison, petitioner did not make a misrepresentation on his application for an adjustment of his status to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States when he answered "no" to Question 17 on his application. View "Alfaro v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Albaadani came to the U.S. via Saudi Arabia at age 17. In 2015, an order of removal was issued against him because his former wife ceased to sponsor his request for citizenship. Albaadani wants to return to his birthplace, but because Yemen was in a state of “war and political conflict,” no travel documents have been issued. Albaadani was detained for six months, after which he was released subject to monitoring with a GPS ankle monitor. The Immigration and Naturalization Service received a tamper alert on Albaadani’s ankle monitor. When an agent called Albaadani, Albaadani refused to go to an enforcement office and became verbally abusive toward the agent. He was sentenced to nine months of imprisonment for tampering with a GPS ankle monitor, 18 U.S.C. 1361. Albaadani argued that his sentence was based on the impermissible factors of gender and national origin. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, stating that some of the district court’s comments, taken out of context, could appear to be influenced by Albaadani’s national origin, but the court’s explicit and complete reliance on serious threats and photographs attributed to Albaadani indicate that the sentence, viewed as a whole, did not create the appearance of having been based on gender or national origin. View "United States v. Albaadani" on Justia Law

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Cojocari, a citizen of the former Soviet republic of Moldova, sought asylum, 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(1)(A); withholding of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3)(A); and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. His wife is a derivative applicant. The immigration judge denied the application and ordered removal. The BIA dismissed an appeal. The Seventh Circuit granted a petition under 8 U.S.C. 1252, stating that in this case, the agency’s credibility finding was arbitrary and capricious; the immigration judge “made mountains out of molehills, fashioned inconsistencies from whole cloth, and held Cojocari’s efforts to obtain corroborating documents against him.” The court noted that the State Department reports that corruption is rampant in Moldova, and torture by police and prison officials has been widely reported. The government introduced no evidence actually rebutting Cojocari’s claims concerning his persecution for political activism, while Cojocari introduced substantial documentary evidence, including hospital and arrest records. View "Cojocari v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Descamps v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2276 (2013), and Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), did not impliedly abrogate the analytical approach and conclusion in United States v. Becerril-Lopez, 541 F.3d 881 (9th Cir. 2008). The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's 57 month sentence after the district court applied a 16-level enhancement based on the ground that defendant's prior conviction for robbery under California Penal Code 211 was categorically a crime of violence. The panel held that, even assuming the district court's failure to accept defendant's guilty plea expressly was error, it provided no ground for reversing his conviction or sentence. The panel also held that the district court properly relied on Becerril-Lopez to impose a 16-level sentencing enhancement in this case. View "United States v. Chavez-Cuevas" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native of Ethiopia and a former government official, petitioned for review of the BIA's denial of his application of asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). When petitioner attempted to narrow his social group, the Eighth Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider such arguments not clearly made before the agency. The court also held that petitioner did not experience past persecution on account of his political opinion, and his fear of future persecution was not objectively reasonable. Consequently, petitioner failed to meet the higher burden of proof required for withholding of removal. Therefore, the court denied the petition for review. View "Baltti v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of Guyana and lawful permanent resident of the United States, petitioned for review of the BIA's order upholding the IJ's finding that he was removable under 8 U.S.C. 237(a)(2)(A)(iii). The Eleventh Circuit granted the petition, holding that petitioner's prior conviction for violating Florida Statute 893.13(1)(a) did not constitute an aggravated felony. In this case, the Florida statute is divisible and, under the modified categorical approach, a conviction for delivery of a controlled substance under section 893.13(1)(a) does not qualify as an aggravated felony. View "Gordon v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law