Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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In 2008, Lopez-Garcia’s husband left Guatemala for the U.S. In 2014, Lopez-Garcia and her three minor children entered the U.S. without valid entry documents. Immigration officers apprehended them. An asylum officer found that she demonstrated a credible fear of persecution or torture in Guatemala. Lopez-Garcia and her children were placed in removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1229a. Lopez-Garcia, with counsel, sought asylum listing her children as derivative beneficiaries. She described her experiences as a single mother in Guatemala, which included threats against her children.An IJ found that the threats did not qualify as past persecution and did not find her membership in the proposed particular social group of “Guatemalan females living with her children alone in their country, as their husbands had migrated to the United States and are not able to support or protect themselves and their children” to be the persecutory motive of the men who made the threats. Lopez-Garcia did not show that the Guatemalan government was unwilling or unable to protect her nor did she show a well-founded fear of future harm. The IJ denied the application for protection under the Convention Against Torture. The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review, finding no abuse of discretion. View "Lopez-Garcia v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against a police officer and a Justice of the Peace under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violating his Fourth Amendment rights. In 2017, when plaintiff was a witness in a courtroom, another witness testified that plaintiff was "not a legal citizen." Based on that statement, the Justice of the Peace presiding over the hearing spoke with the officer and the officer placed plaintiff in handcuffs, searched plaintiff's person, and escorted him to a patrol car outside the courthouse. While plaintiff was waiting in the back of the patrol car, the officer ran a warrants check on plaintiff that came back clean. The officer then contacted ICE officials and plaintiff was taken to an ICE facility, where he remained in custody for three months.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motions for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Under Martinez-Medina v. Holder, 673 F.3d 1029, 1036 (9th Cir. 2011), the panel held that, unlike entry into the United States -- which is a crime under 8 U.S.C. 1325 -- illegal presence is not a crime. Under Melendres v. Arpaio, 695 F.3d 990, 1001 (9th Cir. 2012), the panel held that because mere unauthorized presence is not a criminal matter, suspicion of unauthorized presence alone does not give rise to an inference that criminal activity is afoot. In this case, the officer stopped and arrested plaintiff without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, respectively, and the Justice of the Peace integrally participated in his actions. Furthermore, plaintiff's right to be free from unlawful stops in this circumstance has been established since at least 2012, by which time both Melendres and Martinez-Medina were law of the circuit. View "Reynaga Hernandez v. Skinner" on Justia Law

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Cuevas-Nuno, a native of Mexico, entered the U.S illegally and was charged as removable, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Cuevas-Nuno conceded removability but applied for cancellation of removal and successfully moved to transfer his case from Virginia to Memphis. Notice of his next master hearing was sent to Cuevas-Nuno’s counsel. Cuevas-Nuno did not attend his second hearing. The IJ conducted an in absentia hearing, found Cuevas-Nuno’s cancellation of removal application abandoned, dismissed it, and ordered Cuevas-Nuno removed. Sixteen days later, Cuevas-Nuno moved to reopen, stating that he was confused about the date of the hearing. The IJ found no exceptional circumstance and denied the motion. The BIA upheld the determination.The Sixth Circuit dismissed a petition for review; Cuevas-Nuno failed to administratively exhaust his claims. Cuevas-Nuno’s argument that the incorrect notice his counsel’s employee gave him constitutes an “exceptional situation” sufficient for the IJ to sua sponte reopen her removal order is different from the issue of whether that conduct constitutes an “exceptional circumstance” sufficient to reopen the order under section 1229a(b)(5)(C)(i). His BIA brief did not mention lack of notice under 8 U.S.C. 1229a(b)(5)(C)(ii), his due process right to be heard, or his failure to submit evidence supporting his eligibility for cancellation of removal. The brief only discussed exceptional situations within the context of its argument that the IJ erred in failing to exercise her sua sponte discretion to reopen her removal order—not an 8 U.S.C. 1229a(b)(5)(C)(i) motion to reopen. View "Cuevas-Nuno v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner alleged that she suffered frequent and severe abuse at the hands of her domestic partner in Nicaragua and that Nicaraguan police officers accepted a bribe from her domestic partner and failed to protect her from him.The panel held that substantial evidence did not support the BIA's determination that petitioner had not shown that the Nicaraguan government was unable or unwilling to protect her from persecution. In this case, the BIA erred by faulting petitioner for failing to contact the police again and for failing to report the bribe, and by disregarding petitioner's credible testimony about why she did not report subsequent abuse. Furthermore, the BIA did not address whether petitioner belonged to a cognizable particular social group, was persecuted on account of her membership in that social group, or had a well-founded fear of future persecution. The panel also held that substantial evidence did not support the BIA's determination that petitioner had failed to show that the Nicaraguan government consented to or acquiesced in her torture for the purpose of CAT relief. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Davila v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner seeks withholding of removal based on her fear that she would be persecuted in Guatemala on account of her membership in the particular social group of "indigenous women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship."The panel declined to hold that the Attorney General's decision in Matter of A-B-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018), was arbitrary or capricious and held that the Attorney General did not announce a new categorical exception for victims of domestic violence or other private criminal activity. Rather, the BIA must conduct the proper particular social group analysis on a case-by-case basis. The panel explained that the BIA seems to have erroneously understood Matter of A-B- to forbid any mention of feared harm within a proposed social group. In this case, the BIA's determination was plainly contrary to the Attorney General's requirement that claims must be carefully analyzed under the framework established by the BIA's precedents. Therefore, because the BIA avoided the case-specific inquiry demanded by Matter of A-B- and the BIA's precedents, the panel granted the petition and remanded petitioner's withholding claim. The panel also remanded petitioner's CAT claim for further consideration. View "Diaz-Reynoso v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's determination that petitioner's California conviction was "categorically one for an aggravated felony offense relating to obstruction of justice," and dismissal of his appeal. Because the panel in Valenzuela Gallardo I applied the Chevron framework to the BIA's construction of the aggravated felony of an offense relating to obstruction of justice, and the panel does not believe any exceptions to the law of the case doctrine apply here, the panel must proceed to Chevron Step One. The panel explained that both a de novo interpretation of the obstruction of justice provision utilizing traditional tools of statutory interpretation and a Chevron Step One analysis lead to the same conclusion.The panel held that "obstruction of justice" under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(S) is unambiguous in requiring an ongoing or pending criminal proceeding, and the Board's most recent interpretation is at odds with that unambiguous meaning. Furthermore, because "obstruction of justice" under section 1101(a)(43)(S) unambiguously requires a nexus to ongoing or pending proceedings, and California Penal Code section 32 does not, petitioner's state criminal conviction is not a categorical match with the aggravated felony offense charged in his Notice to Appear. Therefore, the panel vacated the removal order. View "Valenzuela Gallardo v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court refusing to find that a minor child's reunification with Father was not viable for purposes of Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) findings, holding that the court correctly awarded Mother custody but did not properly construe the controlling statute in determining whether reunification was not viable.After the child relocated to the United States to live with Mother, Mother filed the underlying custody action seeking primary physical and legal custody of the child and requesting that the district court make the necessary findings for the child to seek SIJ status. The district court awarded Mother custody but refused to find that reunification was not viable due to abandonment. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) in addressing whether reunification is not viable for the purpose of SIJ findings, a court should consider the conditions in the child's foreign country, the history of the parent-child relationship, and whether returning the child to the parent in the foreign country would be workable or practicable due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect; and (2) the district court did not apply the proper legal framework in concluding that it could not find that reunification was not viable. View "Lopez v. Serbellon Portillo" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner's request for temporary protected status (TPS) under 8 U.S.C. 1254a, holding that the BIA did not err in finding that Petitioner's ninety-eight-day absence from the country was not "brief, casual, and innocent" under the regulations.Petitioner entered the United States on December 27, 1997. Since then, Petitioner spent ninety-eight days outside the United States pursuant to an order of removal. In his TPS request, Petitioner argued that he could excuse the ninety-eight days at issue as "brief, casual, and innocent" under 8 U.S.C. 1254a(c)(4)(A)-(B) because an immigration judge later rescinded his order of removal. The BIA denied Petitioner's request, determining that the rescission of removal order was improper. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA correctly found that the immigration judge's rescission order was not proper, and therefore, Petitioner's absence from the country was not brief, casual, and innocent. View "Machado Sigaran v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Immigration and Nationality Act states that any alien who is “likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible,” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(A) but has never defined “public charge.” The Department of Homeland Security sought to define “public charge,” via rulemaking, as an alien who was likely to receive certain public benefits, including many cash and noncash benefits, for more than 12 months in the aggregate over any 36-month period. The district court enjoined that Rule nationwide.The Fourth Circuit reversed. Invalidating the Rule “would visit palpable harm upon the Constitution’s structure and the circumscribed function of the federal courts that document prescribes” and would entail the disregard of the statute's plain text. The Constitution commands “special judicial deference” to the political branches in light of the intricacies and sensitivities inherent in immigration policy. Congress has charged the executive with defining and implementing a purposefully ambiguous term and has resisted giving the term the definite meaning that the plaintiffs seek. The court noted that, in cases addressing the identical issue, the Supreme Court granted the government’s emergency request to stay the preliminary injunctions, an action which would have been improbable if not impossible had the government, as the stay applicant, not made “a strong showing that it was likely to succeed on the merits.” View "Casa De Maryland, Inc. v. Trump" on Justia Law

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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