Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that petitioner's conviction for sexual assault of a child was a "crime of child abuse," making him removable under Section 237(a)(2)(E)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In this case, defendant raped and impregnated his fourteen-year-old stepdaughter. Defendant was arrested for the rape seventeen years later and charged with sexual assault of a child in violation of Texas Penal Code section 22.011(a)(2). He was convicted and sentenced to ten years probation. The court held that the Board's interpretation of a "crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment" is a reasonable reading of a statutory ambiguity, and joined the Second, Third, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits in holding that the Board's interpretation is entitled to Chevron deference. Reviewing de novo, the court held that defendant's conviction under Texas Penal Code section 22.011(a)(2) falls within the Board's definition of a crime of child abuse. View "Garcia v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Reniery Adalberto Galeano-Romero sought review of a Board of Immigration Appeals decision that denied both his application for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C.1229b(b)(1) and his motion to remand and reopen his case to raise a Convention Against Torture (CAT) claim. The Board acknowledged his removal would result in hardship to his citizen spouse but concluded that the hardship would not be “exceptional and extremely unusual,” leaving him ineligible for cancellation of removal. Furthermore, the Board denied his motion to remand to present his CAT claim to an Immigration Judge (IJ) after finding Galeano-Romero had referenced no previously unavailable and material evidence, a prerequisite to any such motion to reopen. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined it lacked jurisdiction to consider Galeano-Romero's challenge to the Board's discretionary hardship decision, so that portion of his petition was dismissed. With regard to Galeano-Romero's request for remand, the Court found the Board did not abuse its discretion in concluding how he could proffer material evidence that was not previously available or could have been discovered at the original hearing. View "Galeano-Romero v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of state and local governments and a group of non-profit organizations, filed separate suits under the Administrative Procedure Act, both challenging the validity of a DHS rule interpreting 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4), which renders inadmissible to the United States any non-citizen deemed likely to become a public charge. The district court entered orders in both cases to enjoin implementation of the rule nationwide. After determining that the States and the Organizations have Article III standing to challenge the rule and that they fall within the zone of interests of the public charge statute, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction enjoining the implementation of the rule. The court held that plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the rule is contrary to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The court explained that, in reenacting the public charge ground in 1996, Congress endorsed the settled administrative and judicial interpretation of that ground as requiring a holistic examination of a non-citizen's self-sufficiency focused on ability to work and eschewing any idea that simply receiving welfare benefits made one a public charge. Furthermore, the rule makes receipt of a broad range of public benefits on even a short-term basis the very definition of "public charge." Therefore, that exceedingly broad definition is not in accordance with law. The court also held that plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the rule is arbitrary and capricious. In this case, DHS has not provided a reasoned explanation for its changed definition of "public charge" or the rule's expanded list of relevant benefits. The court further held that plaintiffs have established irreparable harm, and that the balance of the equities and the public interest tips in favor of granting the injunction. However, the court modified the scope of the injunctions to cover only the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. View "New York v. United States Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Everett Johnson, a citizen of the Bahamas, became a United States permanent resident in 1977. But in 2016, he pleaded guilty to possessing a schedule II controlled substance in violation of Colorado law. Soon after, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charged Johnson as removable from the United States based on the state drug conviction. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) then ordered Johnson’s removal from the United States back to the Bahamas. He appealed, challenging that the state drug conviction subjected him to deportation from the United States. The Tenth Circuit determined Colorado Revised Statute section 18-18-403.5(1), (2)(a) was overbroad and indivisible as to the identity of a particular controlled substance. Therefore, Johnson’s conviction could not subject him to removal from the United States. The Court therefore granted Johnson’s petition for review, vacated the BIA’s order, and remanded to the BIA for further proceedings. View "Johnson v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied in part and dismissed in part a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). As a preliminary matter, the court lacked jurisdiction to consider two of petitioner's claims based on his failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court held that petitioner failed to show that the IJ and BIA erred in denying his request for asylum. In this case, the BIA did not err in finding that the attack and death threats against petitioner did not amount to past persecution. Furthermore, the IJ and BIA reasonably concluded that petitioner failed to show that his subjective fear of persecution on his return to Albania was objectively reasonable. Because petitioner did not qualify for asylum, he necessarily did not meet the higher threshold for establishing eligibility for withholding of removal. The court noted that its decision does not diminish the injury that petitioner and many other foreign nationals too often suffer in their home countries simply for holding unpopular political beliefs. The court stated that how our Nation deals with refugees is a political decision for the political branches to make. View "Gjetani v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order dismissing petitioner's appeal from an IJ's decision denying deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). As a preliminary matter, the court held that it need not determine whether the BIA applied an incorrect legal standard of review, because petitioner did not raise the aggregate risk argument before the BIA. The court held that the BIA correctly found that res judicata did not bar consideration of past torture petitioner suffered in the 1980s and any error by the IJ in concluding otherwise was harmless both because the IJ nevertheless considered that evidence and because the BIA also considered the evidence and applied the correct legal standard. The court also held that substantial evidence in the record supports the BIA's conclusion that petitioner's argument that he would likely be tortured upon return to Iraq was based on a chain of assumptions and speculation. View "Alzawed v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied petitions for review of the BIA's final order of removal denying petitioner's application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). As a preliminary matter, the court held that it was precluded from reviewing the issue of whether the BIA incorrectly applied the clear error standard of review and engaged in improper factfinding, because petitioner had not exhausted his administrative remedies as to these issues when he filed his initial petition, and because, after exhausting, he never properly petitioned this court to review them. The court also held that the BIA did not err in finding that petitioner had failed to meet his burden of persuasion that he is more likely than not to be tortured if returned to South Sudan. In this case, the BIA's decision is supported by substantial evidence because the BIA correctly concluded that petitioner must show more than a pattern of general ethnic violence in South Sudan to meet the CAT's likelihood requirement. Therefore, a reasonable adjudicator could have found the evidence insufficient to establish a likelihood of torture. View "Lasu v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Marqus, a citizen of Iraq, was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee in 2012 and later adjusted his status to Lawful Permanent Resident. In 2017, he was convicted of attempted criminal sexual conduct. In removal proceedings, against the government’s objections, the IJ admitted three expert declarations concerning country conditions. Marqus believes that he would be tortured if he were to return to Iraq because he is Chaldean Christian; was previously tortured by and deserted from the Iraqi military; was previously targeted, abused, and threatened by the El Mahdi army; and lacks documentation to travel within Iraq without being stopped and tortured. The IJ determined that Marqus was ineligible for withholding of removal because the “particularly serious crime” bar applied, 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(2)(A)(ii) or for protection under the Convention Against Torture. The BIA dismissed his appeal and denied his request to consider new evidence: an additional country-conditions expert declaration, the Department of State 2017 Human Rights Report on Iraq, and the 2017 International Religious Freedom Report on Iraq. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part but remanded. It is not clear that the new evidence materially changes Marqus’s chances of obtaining CAT relief but that evidence, particularly the reports, could be significant. Without an analysis by the BIA of why this evidence is immaterial, it is impossible to determine whether the BIA abused its discretion. View "Marqus v. Barr" on Justia Law

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After USCIS denied plaintiff's application for lawful-permanent-resident status by finding that he failed to continuously maintain lawful status prior to the filing of his application and was thus ineligible for an adjustment of status pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1255(c)(2), plaintiff filed suit alleging that his lapse in lawful status was excused. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the USCIS and held that plaintiff was ineligible for adjustment of status to lawful-permanent-resident status because he failed to establish that his lapse in lawful immigration status was "through no fault of his own or for technical reasons." The panel held that a "technical violation" occurs under 8 C.F.R. 245.1(d)(2)(ii) only if the violation is a consequence or effect of USCIS's inaction on a pending application. In this case, a "technical violation" occurs only if the alien's application to maintain lawful status is ultimately granted. The panel concluded that the text is not "genuinely ambiguous" and noted that it need not grant Auer deference. The panel stated that plaintiff's lapse in lawful status was not caused by USCIS's inaction. Rather, plaintiff's lapse resulted from his substantive ineligibility for an extension of his B-1 visa. View "Attias v. Crandall" on Justia Law

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Sathanthrasa is a citizen of Sri Lanka and a Tamil, an ethnic minority group that has been persecuted by government forces and the paramilitary Karuna Group. In 2007, Sathanthrasa’s brothers were kidnapped. Sathanthrasa reported the kidnappings to the Human Rights Commission without ascribing blame to the Karuna Group. The Karuna Group abducted and beat him; he suffered “internal injur[ies].” Days later, his father was beaten by men looking for Sathanthrasa, who fled but was picked up by armed officers, detained, and interrogated. Over the next six years, kidnappings remained commonplace. While acquiring the funds needed to leave, Sathanthrasa lived openly with his wife and children. Upon entering the U.S., Sathanthrasa sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. An IJ granted Sathanthrasa withholding of removal, citing the likelihood that Sathanthrasa would be “tortured or persecuted” if he returned to Sri Lanka but denied Sathanthrasa’s petition for asylum “as a matter of discretion,” stating that Sathanthrasa’s history did not amount to past persecution and that Sathanthrasa's explanation for the delay was “unpersuasive.” Only asylum provides a pathway to legal permanent resident status and a basis to petition for admission of family members. The Third Circuit vacated. When a petitioner is denied asylum but granted withholding, the denial of asylum “shall be reconsidered,” and the IJ must consider the “reasons for the denial” and “reasonable alternatives available” to the petitioner for family reunification, 8 C.F.R. 1208.16(e). The IJ failed to consider those factors, thereby abusing his discretion. View "Sathanthrasa v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law