Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the denial by an immigration judge (IJ) of his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that the BIA's decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record. Petitioner applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT. Thereafter, Petitioner was placed in removal proceedings. The IJ denied Petitioner's applications and ordered his removal. The BIA affirmed the IJ's decision. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding (1) the denial of Petitioner's asylum application was supported by substantial record evidence; (2) because Petitioner could not succeed on his asylum claim his claim for withholding of removal was properly denied; and (3) Petitioner's claim regarding the denial of CAT protection was waived. View "Gao v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied two petitions for judicial review challenging the orders of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) first finding that Petitioner was not entitled to asylum, withholding of removal, or CAT protection and then placing the case back on the docket and proceeding from where it left off before the case was administratively closed, holding that the BIA correctly interpreted the word "recalendar." In 2010, the BIA upheld the IJ's decision denying Petitioner's claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT protection. The Petitioner petitioned for judicial review. First Circuit remanded the case to the BIA, and on remand, the government moved to close the proceedings administratively. The BIA granted the motion and administratively closed the case in 2013. The parties then filed a stipulation of dismissal, and the First Circuit dismissed the pending petition for judicial review and entered a judgment of voluntary dismissal. In 2016, the government moved to reinstate the case. The BIA granted the motion and decreed that its original 2010 decision "now takes effect." Petitioner petitioned for judicial review. The First Circuit denied both petitions for judicial review, holding that "recalendar" means to reinstate the case to the active docket in the same posture as it occupied when it was paused for administrative closure. View "Arevalo v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Hamid Sow, a citizen of Guinea, sought review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) denial of his motion to remand based upon ineffective assistance of counsel, and motion to reopen based upon new evidence. In December 2016, Sow entered the United States and immediately applied for asylum because he was a homosexual, and the stigma of being a homosexual in a devout Muslim community in his homeland meant danger for himself and his family. Sow only spoke French, and relied on other detainees to relate information to his attorney. Without a translator, Sow's counsel did not fully understand Sow’s concerns: Sow tried to communicate to his counsel that the content of affidavits counsel “did not match up with what happened.” When asked about discrepancies in facts from the affidavits presented, Sow responded he could not explain them because he did not have an opportunity to read them. In his oral decision, the IJ said that he “unfortunately” had to deny Sow’s application based solely on an adverse credibility finding. In coming to this conclusion, the IJ specifically highlighted the inconsistencies in statements made in affidavits. He noted that, if it were true that Sow were a homosexual, then he “clearly should get” asylum. Sow, represented by new counsel, appealed to the BIA. He argued that the IJ erred in failing to assess Sow’s well-founded fear of future persecution. The BIA denied Sow’s motion to remand. It held that the IJ did not clearly err in making an adverse credibility determination and the record did not establish that Sow was entitled to relief “independent of his discredited claim of past harm.” It also denied Sow’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim, reasoning that counsel “reasonably relied on, and submitted the evidence provided by, the respondent and his friends.” The Eleventh Circuit concluded the BIA abused its discretion in denying Sow’s motion to remand based on ineffective assistance of counsel. It therefore granted Sow’s petition for review, vacated the BIA’s decisions, and remanded to the BIA with instructions to remand to the IJ for reconsideration of Sow’s asylum application. View "Sow v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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E.O.H.C. and his daughter fled Mixco, Guatemala, a city plagued by violence, crossed into the U.S. and presented themselves to Border Patrol officers. The government began removal proceedings, scheduling a hearing in San Diego. Under a new DHS policy, the Migrant Protection Protocols, the government returned the two to Mexico to await their hearing. They were left to fend for themselves in Tijuana. E.O.H.C. told the IJ that he did not fear going back to Guatemala. He later alleged that a Border Protection officer advised him to say this. He was not then represented by counsel. The IJ ordered removal. E.O.H.C. waived the right to appeal, allegedly because he feared being returned to Mexico. They were transferred to a Pennsylvania detention facility, where they argued that E.O.H.C.’s appeal waiver was invalid. The BIA granted an emergency stay of removal. The government flew them to San Diego for return to Mexico. They filed an emergency mandamus petition. The government returned them to Pennsylvania. They challenged the validity and applicability of the Protocols and argued that returning them to Mexico would interfere with their relationship with their lawyer and would violate several treaties. The district court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Third Circuit reversed in part. When a detained alien seeks relief that a court of appeals cannot meaningfully provide on a petition for review of a final order of removal, 8 U.S.C.1252(b)(9) and 1252(a)(4) do not bar consideration by a district court. One claim, involving the right to counsel, arises from the proceedings to remove them to Guatemala and can await a petition for review. The other claims challenge the plan to return the petitioners to Mexico in the meantime. For these claims, review is now or never. View "E.O.H.C. v. Secretary United States Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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Grayson does business under the name Gire Roofing. Grayson and Edwin Gire were indicted for visa fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1546 and harboring and employing unauthorized aliens, 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii). On paper, Gire had no relationship to Grayson as a corporate entity. He was not a stockholder, officer, or an employee. He managed the roofing (Grayson’s sole business), as he had under the Gire Roofing name for more than 20 years. The corporate papers identified Grayson’s president and sole stockholder as Young, Gire’s girlfriend. Gire, his attorney, and the government all represented to the district court that Gire was Grayson’s president. The court permitted Gire to plead guilty on his and Grayson’s behalf. Joint counsel represented both defendants during a trial that resulted in their convictions and a finding that Grayson’s headquarters was forfeitable. Despite obtaining separate counsel before sentencing, neither Grayson nor Young ever complained about Gire’s or prior counsel’s representations. Neither did Grayson object to the indictment, the plea colloquy, or the finding that Grayson had used its headquarters for harboring unauthorized aliens. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Although Grayson identified numerous potential errors in the proceedings none are cause for reversal. Grayson has not shown that it was deprived of any right to effective assistance of counsel that it may have had and has not demonstrated that the court plainly erred in accepting the guilty plea. The evidence is sufficient to hold Grayson vicariously liable for Gire’s crimes. View "United States v. Grayson Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an amended opinion affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of government defendants in a case involving when a spousal relationship must exist for a spouse to be eligible for derivative U-visa status. The panel deferred to a regulation that the USCIS adopted, which construed the statutory phrase, "accompanying, or following to join" to require that a spouse's qualifying relationship exist at the time of the filing of the initial U-visa petition. In this case, petitioner entered the United States and was a victim of a serious crime. After she was helpful to law enforcement and granted a petition for a U-visa, she sought derivative U-visa status for her husband. The panel applied Chevron deference to the USCIS's interpretation of the statute in enacting the regulation, holding that the statute is ambiguous as to "accompany, or following to join," the USCIS reasonably interpreted the ambiguous phrase, and equal protection under the Fifth Amendment has not been violated. View "Medina Tovar v. Zuchowski" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal from the IJ's order denying her request for withholding of removal under section 241(b)(3)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In this case, petitioner feared extortion and death if she returned to Guatemala. The court held that, assuming family constitutes a particular social group, substantial evidence supported the finding that petitioner's family membership is not a central reason for the persecution she fears in Guatemala. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's conclusion that it is not likely that petitioner will suffer torture by or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official in Guatemala. View "Silvestre-Giron v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Luna-Romero, a citizen of Argentina, entered the U.S. illegally. In removal proceedings, he applied for asylum, 8 U.S.C. 1158(b), withholding of removal, section 1231(b)(3)(A), and protection under the Convention Against Torture. He testified about past abuses in Argentina, noting that during the 1990s he became the spokesperson for an indigenous group and organized protests on its behalf. The police harassed him during these protests, beating him up “half of the time” and detaining him “three or five times.” An officer once struck him with a police baton, resulting in eight stitches in his eyebrow. Apart from the protests, Luna testified that the police had detained him some “57 times” over the years. An immigration judge denied Luna’s application, finding that he had not testified credibly and had provided inconsistent and evasive answers. The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed his appeal, noting that Luna’s other evidence could not “independently establish” any of his claims for relief. The Sixth Circuit denied his petition for review. Some of the inconsistencies, in isolation, may seem like “small potatoes” but “their cumulative effect is great.” The Board reasonably upheld the adverse credibility determination. That decision combined with a lack of independent evidence bars Luna from obtaining the three types of relief that he seeks View "Luna-Romero v. Barr" on Justia Law

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On rehearing en banc, the Fourth Circuit reversed the judgment and remanded with instructions to grant plaintiff's motion to set aside the agency's final action denying plaintiff special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status. In this case, USCIS interpreted 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J) (i) to require a permanent custody order and thus denied plaintiff's SIJ application, dismissing his administrative appeal. The court held that the agency's rejection of plaintiff's SIJ provision -- that clause (i) requires a permanent custody order -- is entitled to no deference, defies the plain statutory language, and impermissibly intrudes into issues of state domestic relations law. Because the agency's interpretation of clause (i) was not in accordance with law, the court remanded to the agency to take another look at plaintiff's SIJ application. View "Perez v. Cuccinelli" on Justia Law

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Ragbir, a green card holder from Trinidad and Tobago, was convicted of mortgage fraud in 2000. On his attorney’s advice, Ragbir agreed that the actual loss was $350,000-$500,000, believing that his convictions alone made him deportable. The Third Circuit affirmed Ragbir’s convictions and sentence. Ragbir never sought post-conviction relief. DHS commenced removal proceedings. Ragbir then learned that his stipulation to a loss of more than $10,000 made him deportable. Ragbir’s immigration counsel represented that an attorney would be hired to attempt to vacate the underlying convictions. Ragbir still did not pursue a collateral attack. The IJ ordered him removed; the BIA and Second Circuit upheld the decision. In the meantime, Ragbir married an American citizen and obtained an immigrant visa. The BIA denied a motion to reopen. DHS eventually elected not to renew its discretionary stay of removal. Ragbir then challenged his detention, asserting that his conviction should be overturned because jury instructions given at his trial were erroneous in light of later Supreme Court rulings and asserting ineffective assistance of counsel. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition. Ragbir had the ability to bring all his claims at least six years before his 2012 petition for coram nobis. He provides no sound reason for his delay. View "Ragbir v. United States" on Justia Law