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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court agreed with the BIA that the harm petitioner suffered -- being threatened by a phone call and letter from a gang demanding money -- did not constitute past persecution. The court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's ultimate finding that petitioner failed to prove that she had a well-founded fear of future persecution if removed to El Salvador. The court also held that the BIA did not err in ruling that petitioner failed to prove past persecution on account of her membership in two particular social groups: Salvadoran female heads of households and vulnerable Salvadoran females. Petitioner's claims for withholding of removal and relief under the CAT likewise failed. View "Blanco De Guevara v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioner and her son's application for relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). The court vacated the BIA's order with respect to the CAT claim and remanded, holding that the BIA failed to fully consider the evidence in support of petitioner's CAT claim. In this case, petitioner and her son were threatened by members of a local street gang that, if they did not leave their native country of El Salvador within 24 hours, they would be murdered. Petitioner and her son decided to come to the United States after local law enforcement refused to provide any form of aid. The court held that the BIA's wholesale failure to fully consider the country conditions evidence petitioner presented to show government acquiescence in her torture constituted reversible error. View "Cabrera Vasquez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The panel held that, although it was possible for the IJ to conclude that the death threats petitioner received were sufficiently serious and credible to rise to the level of persecution, the panel could not say that the evidence compelled the conclusion that petitioner suffered past persecution. Moreover, even assuming that petitioner had a subjective fear of future persecution, he failed to demonstrate that the record compelled reversal of the agency's internal relocation finding. Therefore, petitioner failed to establish eligibility for asylum and consequently, for withholding of removal. The panel also held that the IJ and BIA correctly concluded that petitioner had not been tortured in the past nor has he shown that it was more likely than not that he would be subjected to torture by or with the acquiescence of a public official. Accordingly, petitioner's CAT claim failed. View "Duran-Rodriguez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's determination that petitioner failed to demonstrate the requisite governmental acquiescence for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and that he had not derived citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) because he was not in the "physical custody" of his father during the requisite time period. The court held that whether the government would acquiesce to torture under the CAT is a mixed question of fact and law. The court also held that whether petitioner was in the "physical custody" of his father was a mixed question of fact and law. In this case, the BIA applied the wrong standard of review to both determinations by applying the clear error, rather than the de novo, standard of review. View "Duncan v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Asgari came to the U.S. for education, earning a doctorate in 1997. He returned to Iran and became a professor at Sharif University. His work involves transmission electron microscopy. Asgari traveled to the U.S. in 2011, stating on his visa application that he planned to visit New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles. He traveled to Cleveland to see an Iranian-American friend at Case Western’s Swagelok Center. They began collaborating. Asgari returned to Iran and obtained another visa for “temp[orary] business[/]pleasure,” identifying his destination as his son’s New York address. He applied for a job at Swagelok. The FBI investigated. The Center’s director stated that Asgari was on a sabbatical from Sharif University; that the Center conducted Navy-funded research; and that an opening had emerged on the project. Agent Boggs obtained a warrant to search Asgari’s personal email account for evidence that Asgari made materially false statements in his visa application and that Asgari violated the prohibition on exporting “any goods, technology, or services to Iran.” Based on information uncovered from that 2013 search, the government obtained another warrant to search Asgari’s subsequent emails. Indicted on 13 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud, and visa fraud, Asgari successfully moved to suppress the evidence. The Sixth Circuit reversed, applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The affidavit was not “so skimpy, so conclusory, that anyone ... would necessarily have known it failed to demonstrate probable cause.” The sanctions on Iran are broad; probable cause is a lenient standard. View "United States v. Asgari" on Justia Law

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Under 8 U.S.C. 1226(a), the Secretary of Homeland Security generally has the discretion to arrest and hold a deportable alien pending a removal decision or to release the alien on bond or parole. Section 1226(c), enacted out of “concer[n] that deportable criminal aliens who are not detained continue to engage in crime and fail to appear,” sets out four categories of aliens who are inadmissible or deportable for bearing links to terrorism or for committing specified crimes; paragraph (1) directs the Secretary to arrest any such alien “when the alien is released” from jail, and paragraph (2) forbids the Secretary to release any “alien described in paragraph (1)” pending a removal determination. Aliens detained under 1226(c)(2), alleged that because they were not immediately detained by immigration officials after their release from criminal custody, they are not aliens “described in paragraph (1),” even though they fall into at least one of the four categories. The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, holding that the statute’s text does not support the argument that because the aliens were not arrested immediately after their release, they are not “described in” 1226(c)(1). Congress’s use of the definite article in “when the alien is released” indicates that the scope of the word “alien” “has been previously specified in context,” so the class of people to whom “the alien” refers must be fixed by the predicate offenses identified in subparagraphs (A)–(D). Paragraph (c)(2) does not limit mandatory detention to those arrested “pursuant to” or “under authority created by” (c)(1), but to anyone simply “described in” (c)(1). View "Nielsen v. Preap" on Justia Law

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Herrera-Garcia, a citizen of El Salvador, entered the U.S. illegally in 1990. In 2016, DHS initiated removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1229a, alleging that he was convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. Herrera-Garcia sought asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture, testifying that when he was nine years old, guerrillas stopped him about every three weeks to get information about neighbors who might be working for the military; he never saw the guerillas with guns. Herrera-Garcia also testified that several of his friends were forced to join the military and that his fear of living in El Salvador is worse today than it was 27 years ago because of the number of gangs and kidnappings there. His parents testified that they worry about El Salvadoran gangs kidnapping him for ransom given his American accent. The IJ found Herrera-Garcia removable and denied his applications for relief; the BIA affirmed. He unsuccessfully sought reconsideration, citing a new Supreme Court decision, Pereira v. Sessions. Pereira held that a notice to appear that fails to specify the time or place of a removal hearing does not trigger the “stop-time rule” for purposes of cancellation of removal. Herrera-Garcia argued that Pereira should be extended outside the context of the stop-time rule to preclude the agency’s jurisdiction over his proceedings. The Seventh Circuit denied his petition. Herrera-Garcia provided no evidence of past torture or persecution and did not show that he, specifically, would be in danger in El Salvador or that the government would have inflicted or allowed torture. View "Herrera-Garcia v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition seeking review of an order by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying her motion to reopen removal proceedings based on changed country conditions within Kenya, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion. In 2013, Petitioner was first ordered removed to Kenya. In 2016, Petitioner sought to reopen proceedings, arguing that conditions within Kenya had changed since her prior removal proceedings and now supported a claim for asylum. An immigration judge (IJ) denied the motion. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the agency’s finding that Petitioner failed to establish changed country conditions. View "Wanjiku v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's final order of removal determining that petitioner was ineligible for cancellation of removal because his 2007 conviction of attempted theft from a person under Texas law counts as a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) under a 2016 BIA decision. The court exercised its discretion to consider petitioner's claim and determined that it had jurisdiction to consider it. On the merits, the court held that the definition of CIMTs announced in In re Diaz-Lizarraga, 26 I. & N. Dec. 847, 848 (BIA 2016), may be applied only to crimes committed after that decision issued. Therefore, the BIA erred in retroactively applying Diaz-Lizarraga's new definition to petitioner's conviction for attempted theft. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Monteon-Camargo v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for judicial review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner’s untimely filed motion to reopen, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to reopen and declining to equitably toll the deadline. Petitioner, a Guatemalan native and citizen, was charged with removability. An immigration judge (IJ) denied Petitioner’s application for withholding of removal. The BIA affirmed. Nearly seven years after the BIA denied his appeal, Petitioner filed motion to reopen, arguing that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel. The BIA denied the motion as time-barred and declined Petitioner’s invitation to equitably toll the deadline. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA neither committed a material error of law nor acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or irrationally. View "Tay-Chan v. Barr" on Justia Law