Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Bangladesh citizen Atm Magfoor Rahman Sarkar, his wife, and their two children petitioned for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (BIA) order denying their third motion to reopen removal proceedings. Although this case was pending for nearly five years, shortly before oral argument both Sarkar and the Government moved to administratively close this case because the Government deemed Sarkar a low enforcement priority. On the merits, it was undisputed that Sarkar’s third motion to reopen was untimely and numerically barred. Nevertheless, he argued he was entitled to relief because he presented new and material country-condition evidence that established his prima facie eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the BIA, finding Sarkar's attempts to connect generalized evidence of increased Islamic extremism with his contentions that he has become known “as a fierce opponent of religious extremism” and he has “no doubt” that he was known as an enemy “within the Bangladesh Jihadi/Extremist network” failed to establish a nexus between a reasonable fear of future persecution and his proposed protected grounds. "[I]t points to generalized crime and societal shifts that do not target him or those in his proposed social groups." View "Sarkar v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a Cuban alien, petitioned for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals decision denying his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) protection. But the government first argued that the Fourth Circuit should not hear this case, as venue lies in the Fifth Circuit. Interpreting the venue statute, the Fourth Circuit found that venue is proper in the circuit court because the Immigration Judge (“IJ”) completed the proceedings in Virginia, which is within the court’s judicial circuit.   The court rejected Petitioner’s petition, explaining that it defers to the Immigration Judge’s factual findings because they are supported by substantial evidence. The court wrote that the IJ’s adverse credibility determination was supported by substantial evidence. The court explained even a minor inconsistency can support an adverse credibility finding. Here, the IJ noted that Petitioner’s credible-fear interview omitted several important police encounters, in November 2017, October 2018, and November 2018, which he later mentioned at the immigration hearing. The interviewer warned him to include everything by asking about any “other incidents that he wanted to tell anybody about.”   Further, the court explained that the IJ noted Petitioner presented no direct evidence that he would be tortured upon his return, and his testimony that he will be tortured upon his return is speculative. Thus, because the IJ’s opinion was sound, the BIA did not abuse its discretion by affirming it. View "Oscar Herrera-Alcala v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review challenging his expedited removal by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) based on Petitioner's Pennsylvania conviction for receiving stolen property, holding that Petitioner's state conviction was an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G).In 2020, DHS initiated expedited removal proceedings against Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, alleging that Petitioner was charged with being deportable under the INA as an alien "convicted of an aggravated felony" because he had been convicted of receiving stolen property. Petitioner requested withholding of removal, arguing that his Pennylvania receiving stolen property conviction was not an aggravated felony under the INA. DHS disagreed, and the immigration judge (IJ) upheld the determination. The Third Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding that the Pennsylvania offense was sufficient to constitute an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G). View "Jacome v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP): certain non-Mexican nationals arriving by land from Mexico were returned to Mexico to await the results of their removal proceedings. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 1225(b)(2)(C) provides: “In the case of an alien ... who is arriving on land ... from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States, the [Secretary] may return the alien to that territory pending a proceeding under section 1229a.” The Biden administration later suspended the program. The Fifth Circuit affirmed an order enjoining the termination of MMP.The Supreme Court reversed. The rescission of MPP did not violate INA section 1225. The contiguous-territory return authority in section 1225(b)(2)(C) is discretionary and remains discretionary notwithstanding any violation of section 1225(b)(2)(A), which provides for mandatory detention of such aliens. Since its enactment, every Presidential administration has interpreted section 1225(b)(2)(C) as discretionary, notwithstanding the consistent shortfall of funds to comply with section 1225(b)(2)(A). Interpreting section 1225(b)(2)(C) as a mandate imposes a significant burden upon the Executive’s ability to conduct diplomatic relations with Mexico. The availability of parole as an alternative means of processing applicants for admission (section 1182(d)(5)(A)), additionally makes clear that the Court of Appeals erred.The Court of Appeals also erred to the extent it understood itself to be reviewing an abstract decision apart from the specific agency actions contained in memoranda in which the Secretary of Homeland Security terminated MMP. View "Biden v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Petitioners overstayed their permission to visit the United States 20 years ago, and they’ve been here ever since. For the second time after they were ordered removed, they asked the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) to reopen their removal proceedings. For the second time, the Board refused.On appeal, Petitioners focused on the BIA’s failure to consider certain evidence of changed country conditions. They argue that amounted to an abuse of discretion. (They also argue the BIA committed various other errors.)The Fifth Circuit denied their petition, holding that (A) Petitioners’ claims are number-barred. Then the court wrote that it (B) rejected Petitioners’ resort to federal regulations and instead apply the statute as written. Finally, the court (C) denied the petition without remanding it to the BIA. The court explained that the number bar is a separate impediment to relief. The INA first lays out the number bar: Petitioners generally get one and only one motion to reopen. Section 1229a(c)(7)(A). Then the statute creates one and only one exception. In the same sentence as the number bar itself, Congress said: “[T]his limitation shall not apply so as to prevent the filing of one motion to reopen described in subparagraph (C)(iv).” And everyone agrees that petitioners do not qualify for the single statutory exception to the number bar in (C)(iv). Thus, Petitioners'’ motion to reopen is number-barred. View "Djie v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed an appeal by Antonio, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, from an order denying his request for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. The Sixth Circuit granted a stay of removal pending a decision on the merits of his petition, 8 U.S.C. 1252(b)(3)(B). "Everyone agrees" that Antonio will likely be tortured if he is removed. The record indicates that Antonio, who was involved with serious drug trafficking gangs that might have control over the Dominican Republic police forces, will not be protected by the government from the torture to which he will be subject upon his return. Antonio has made a substantial showing that one of his torturers in the past was a police officer. In light of his strong showing of irreparable harm, Antonio’s arguments present a sufficient likelihood of success to weigh in favor of granting a stay pending an appeal on the merits. A stay pending a merits decision is necessary to preserve any value in hearing his case on the merits. View "Antonio v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Yogi Metals Group, Inc. applied for an EB-1C visa for one of its employees. The United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied the application. Yogi Metals and the employee filed suit in federal district court, arguing that USCIS acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the application. The district court granted summary judgment to USCIS.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Appellants argued that USCIS acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the EB-1C visa petition having granted the employee a temporary L-1A visa, with similar requirements. But Appellants did not present this argument to the district court and the court does not consider arguments first raised on appeal. Further, regardless, the deference here due the agency decision has not been overcome, discretion informed by its announced rule that the previous grant of a temporary visa does not bind USCIS to later grant a permanent visa. View "Yogi Metals Group v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) denied Petitioner’s cancellation of removal concluding that his receipt of temporary protected status (“TPS”) was not an admission and, therefore, he could not meet the statutory requirement that he has seven years of continuous residence in the United States after admission. The BIA also denied Petitioner’s application for asylum concluding that his 2016 domestic-violence conviction was a “particularly serious crime” that barred him from relief. Petitioner challenged the BIA’s decision raising two primary arguments: (1) under the court’s precedent, his TPS does constitute an admission “in any status” under the cancellation statute, 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(a), and (2) the BIA applied an improper legal standard in deciding that his 2016 conviction was for a particularly serious crime.   The Ninth Circuit denied his petition for review. The court explained that considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, 141 S. Ct. 1809 (2021), and the plain language of the TPS statute, 8 U.S.C. Section 1254a(c)(5), the court concluded that the granting of TPS does not constitute being “admitted in any status” under the cancellation statute. The court held that Sanchez effectively overruled circuit precedent requiring consideration of the benefits conferred by an alien’s immigration status in determining whether the alien had been admitted. The court wrote that Sanchez is clear that TPS does not constitute an admission to the United States no matter how great its benefits. The court further rejected Petitioner’s argument that the BIA legally erred in its PSC determination by considering the cumulative effect of his three domestic-violence convictions. View "JOSE HERNANDEZ V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought review of a December 14, 2018, decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (the "BIA") affirming a decision of an Immigration Judge (the "IJ") denying asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT").   The Second Circuit granted Petitioners' petition for review and held that to qualify as a "refugee" under the INA, a dual national asylum applicant need only show persecution in any singular country of nationality. The court explained that to be eligible for asylum and withholding of removal, an individual must be a "refugee." 8 U.S.C. Section 1158(b)(1)(A). But this is only one step in the asylum process. Even if an individual is a refugee, there are other bars to asylum, see 8 U.S.C. Sections 1158(a)(2) (exceptions to authority to apply for asylum), 1158(b)(2) (exceptions to eligibility for asylum), and even assuming all bars are overcome, the decision of whether to grant a particular asylum application is still a matter of discretion for the Attorney General. Further, the court held that to be considered a "refugee" under Section 1101(a)(42)(A), a dual national need only show persecution in any singular country of nationality. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, vacated the BIA's December 14, 2018, decision, and remanded to the BIA for further proceedings in accordance with the proper legal standard. View "Zepeda-Lopez, et al. v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The federal government may deny admission or adjustment of status to a noncitizen “likely at any time to become a public charge, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(A). For decades, “public charge” was understood to refer to noncitizens “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the meaning of “public charge” to disqualify a broader set of noncitizens from benefits. The Rule immediately generated extensive litigation.In 2020, the district court vacated the 2019 Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701. In 2021, the federal government dismissed appeals defending the 2019 Rule in courts around the country. Several states subsequently sought to intervene in the proceedings, hoping to defend the 2019 Rule; they also moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). The district court denied the motions, finding each untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to timeliness. The court declined to address other issues. View "Cook County, Illinois v. State of Texas" on Justia Law