Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Defendant believes that the statute criminalizing reentry into this country after removal violates his equal-protection rights. See 8 U.S.C. Section 1326(a), (b). He did not raise this issue before the district court. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling and denied the pending motion for judicial notice.   The court explained that even constitutional arguments can be forfeited. Forfeiture occurs when a party has an argument available but fails to assert it in time. The court wrote that failure to raise an equal-protection challenge before the district court is a classic example of forfeiture. During the six months before he pleaded guilty, Defendant filed more than a dozen motions raising all sorts of issues, but not one of them questioned the constitutionality of the illegal-reentry statute or mentioned equal protection. Had he done so, the district court would have had an opportunity to potentially correct or avoid the alleged] mistake in the first place.   The court explained that under these circumstances, Defendant’s constitutional argument receives, at most, plain-error review. Here, to succeed, Defendant’ had to show, among other things, that there was a clear or obvious error under current law. In this case, there is one district court case on his side, see Carillo-Lopez, 555 F. Supp. 3d at 1001, but at most it shows that the issue is subject to reasonable dispute. The court explained that picking one side of a reasonable dispute cannot be clearly or obviously wrong. View "United States v. Salvador Nunez-Hernandez" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of Mexico, entered the United States in 1990 with a border-crossing card. On August 21, 2014, the DHS initiated a case by issuing Petitioner a notice to appear (“NTA”). The NTA did not state a specific date or time for Petitioner's hearing, noting only that he was to appear before an immigration judge “on a date to be set at a time to be set.” However, the notice provided that Petitioner was given oral notice of the specific date he was supposed to appear. Petitioner appeared, conceded he was removable, and indicated he would seek cancelation of removal on the basis that his children “[would] suffer extreme, unusual and exceptional hardship if [he was] deported.”After the hearing, an immigration judge found that Petitioner did not qualify for cancellation of removal because 1.) he had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that he had been a person of good moral character for the previous ten years and 2.) he had not met his burden of proving that his children would suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship if he were removed to Mexico. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed and Petitioner appealed to the Fifth Circuit.The Fifth Circuit concluded that Petitioner's challenge to the NTA in that it was defective for failing to list the place and time of his removal hearing were unexhausted. Further, the court found that Petitioner's extreme-hardship claim fell outside its jurisdiction. View "Castillo-Gutierrez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was a lawful resident of the United States when, in 1996, he was convicted for the attempted sale of cocaine under New York Penal Law Sec. 220.39(1). He was sentenced to five years' probation. In 2018, Appellant applied for naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS"). However, USCIS determined that Appellant's 1996 conviction qualified as an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1101(a)(43).Appellant unsuccessfully sought an administrative appeal of the USCIS decision and then brought this action in the district court. The district court affirmed and Appellant appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, finding that Appellant's 1996 conviction under Sec. 220.39(1) qualifies as an aggravated felony within the plain meaning of the Immigration and Nationality Act. View "Elvis Leonel Morfa Diaz v. Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, et al." on Justia Law

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Since illegally entering the United States in 2000, Petitioner has been convicted of four DUI offenses. In 2018, an Arizona court convicted Petitioner of aggravated DUI. Before sentencing, he spent 183 days in pretrial detention. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated removal proceedings. Petitioner applied for cancellation of removal but, through counsel, waived applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) because he believed he did not have “a viable claim under current law.”The question before the Ninth Circuit was whether pretrial detention that is not credited toward a defendant’s sentence is confinement “as a result of conviction.” See 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(f)(7). The court held that it is not. The court also held that the agency properly relied on counsel’s representations that the petitioner waived his applications for asylum, withholding, and protection under the Convention Against Torture.The court concluded that Petitioner failed to establish a due process violation, explaining that he was represented by counsel, the IJ relied on counsel’s statements to hold that the claims had been withdrawn, and the BIA properly affirmed. Moreover, the court explained that Petitioner did not contend that his counsel was ineffective or that the waiver was not knowing and voluntary. View "ESTEBAN TRONCOSO-OVIEDO V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied Petitioner’s Form N-400, Application for Naturalization because it determined that Petitioner was no longer a lawful permanent resident following the denial of his Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Petitioner sought de novo review of the denial of his N-400 pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Section 1421(c), requesting that the district court direct USCIS to grant his N-400. The district court dismissed Petitioner’s petition without prejudice, finding that it lacked authority to direct USCIS to grant his N-400 and, alternatively, that his petition failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court did not err in finding that Section 1429 does not limit its jurisdiction to review Petitioner’s Section 1421(c) claim, nor does it limit the court’s jurisdiction over this appeal. The court further wrote that it joins its sister circuits in holding that the pendency of removal proceedings prevents a district court from directing the Attorney General to naturalize an alien due to the limits imposed on the Attorney General’s authority to consider applications for naturalization by Section 1429. Thus because Section 1429 precludes the district court from granting effective relief in this case, the court found that Petitioner’s Section 1421(c) petition is moot.Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not commit a manifest error in stating that Petitioner could reassert a petition for review should removal proceedings be terminated in his favor and did not abuse its discretion in denying his Rule 59(e) motion. View "Hafils Akpovi v. David Douglas" on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitioned for the court’s review of the Board of Immigration Appeal’s (BIA) denial of his motion to reopen his removal proceedings. According to Petitioner, the BIA erred in finding his motion to be time-barred under 8 U.S.C. Section 1229a and further erred in refusing to exercise its authority to reopen his case sua sponte.The Second Circuit dismissed in part and denied in part Petitioner’s petition for review. The court held that Petitioner’s motion was filed years after his order of removal became final, and he has not identified any changed country conditions that could justify the delay. Furthermore, the court wrote that it lacks jurisdiction to review the BIA’s decision not to reopen a case sua sponte. View "Chen v. Garland" on Justia Law

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An Immigration Judge (IJ) denied Petitioner's adjustment of status and waiver of inadmissibility, finding that his extensive criminal history since arriving in the United States made him a “violent and dangerous” individual and that his Minnesota domestic assault conviction was an aggravated felony “crime of violence.” 8 U.S.C. Sections 1159(a), (c), 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). The IJ further ruled that this conviction made Petitioner statutorily ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal. 8 U.S.C. Sections 1158(b)(2)(A)(ii), 1231(b)(3)(B)(ii). On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upheld these rulings.   The BIA ordered Petitioner removed to South Sudan. Petitioner petitioned for judicial review of the BIA’s decision, limiting the petition to the denial of CAT relief. The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review. The court concluded that the BIA adequately explained why it rejected the IJ’s likelihood-of-torture finding and identified reasons grounded in the record sufficient to support this clear error determination. The BIA explained why the IJ’s findings failed to establish Petitioner was at personal risk of being tortured in South Sudan.   Petitioner argued the BIA failed to consider the risk of torture in the aggregate, instead focusing on isolated and incomplete portions of the evidence. However, the court wrote that the BIA expressly stated that the IJ’s ultimate finding of the likelihood of torture “is not supported by the record.” Although it did not individually address all evidence in the record or every IJ finding, its opinion demonstrates that it considered the record as a whole and “accounted for all of the asserted risks in concluding that the immigration judge clearly erred.” View "Chuor Chuor v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitioned for review of a final order of removal issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals, dismissing his appeal from the decision of the immigration judge (“IJ”) to deny his motion to reopen. Petitioner illegally entered the United States, at Laredo, Texas. The Government filed a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) in immigration court and charged Petitioner as removable under 8 U.S.C. Section 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Petitioner did not appear and was ordered removed in absentia.   Petitioner contends the Fifth Circuit should remand the matter to the Board for reconsideration of his NTA challenge in light of Rodriguez v. Garland, 15 F.4th 351 (5th Cir. 2021). The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for review. The court explained that here, in contrast to Rodriguez, Petitioner received the NTA and does not dispute that he also received the subsequent notice of hearing (NOH). The fact that Petitioner received the NOH (or does not dispute receiving the NOH) makes Rodriguez distinguishable. View "Campos-Chaves v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioners a twenty-three-year-old mother and her seven-year-old son, respectively, sought asylum in the United States after fleeing El Salvador following death threats and violence at the hands of the Mara 18 gang due to Petitioner’s Catholic religion.An immigration judge (IJ) found Petitioner’s testimony was credible and that one of the death threats she received had a nexus to her statutorily protected right to religion. However, the IJ then concluded that the death threat did not rise to the level of past persecution because the threat never came to fruition. It thus denied her application for asylum and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed that decision.The Fourth Circuit granted Petitioners’ petition for review of the BIA’s decision. The court explained that the IJ’s decision, which the BIA adopted, blatantly ignored our long line of cases establishing that the threat of death alone establishes past persecution. This was legal error, and therefore, an abuse of discretion. The court held has established she was subjected to past persecution in El Salvador. She is thereby entitled to the presumption of a well-founded fear of future persecution. View "Zoila Sorto-Guzman v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the Board of Immigration Appeals’ judgment that he is removable on the ground that he was convicted of a “crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment” within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. Section 1227(a)(2)(E)(i). The parties agree that the least culpable conduct criminalized by the Florida statute under which Petitioner was convicted—culpably negligent child neglect—fits within the BIA’s expansive interpretation of Section 1227(a)(2)(E)(i). The question, then, is whether the BIA’s reading of that provision is permissible inasmuch as it covers Petitioner’s offense.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the offense of which all now agree Petitioner was convicted fits within the BIA’s interpretation of Section 1227(a)(1)(E)(i)’s key statutory phrase, “crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment,” which the Board reads to encompass “child endangerment-type offense[s]” that require a “likelihood or reasonable probability that a child will be harmed.”   Further, the court concluded that the BIA’s interpretation of Fla. Stat. Section 827.03(2)(d) is permissible insofar as it reaches “culpably negligent” child neglect. Thus, because it’s reasonable to interpret “crime of . . . child neglect” as including the Florida offense of culpably negligent child neglect, the court deferred to the BIA’s conclusion that Petitioner’s conviction under Fla. Stat. Section 827.03(2) renders him removable. View "Ariel Marcelo Bastias v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law