Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The Fifth Circuit held that petitioner's prior Texas conviction for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver was a violation of a state law "relating to a controlled substance" as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, the court held that petitioner failed to show that the BIA erred in finding that his Texas drug delivery conviction rendered him removable. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's discretionary decision to deny cancellation of removal. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding of removability and discretionary denial of petitioner's application for cancellation of removal. View "Padilla v. Bar" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the the BIA's decision denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration after she was denied asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's finding that petitioner failed to show that she was harmed on account of her membership in a particular social group—i.e., that her ex-boyfriend harmed her for being a Honduran woman unable to leave her relationship. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the IJ's finding that the Honduran police did not and would not acquiesce to petitioner's alleged torture by her ex-boyfriend. In regard to the motion for reconsideration, the court held that it had jurisdiction to entertain petitioner's argument concerning Matter of A-B-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018), which held that married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship did not constitute a particular social group and clarifying other points of law pertaining to asylum and withholding of removal claims. The court also held that the Grace injunction did not affect the court's ability to review A-B-, nor could it, because it did not bind courts in this circuit; the BIA correctly interpreted A-B-; A-B- was not arbitrary and capricious; and remand to the IJ was not warranted. View "Gonzales-Veliz v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Odei, a Christian pastor in Ghana and a founding member of Spirit of Grace, a U.S. nonprofit religious group, is a Ph.D. candidate in an online educational program sponsored by a Tennessee university. Spirit of Grace invited him to visit the U.S. to participate in religious activities. Odei also planned to speak at churches and youth groups, perform missionary work, and meet his academic advisors. Odei obtained a B-1/B-2 visa from the U.S. Consulate in Ghana. When Odei arrived in Chicago, Customs agents questioned him, determined that his visa was invalid for his intended missionary and academic purposes, found him inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(7), and canceled the visa. They did not immediately remove him because he answered “yes” when asked if he feared returning to Ghana. He was held in the McHenry County Jail. A week later Odei dropped his asylum claim. DHS allowed Odei to withdraw his application for admission and return to Ghana. Odei and Spirit sued DHS, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The judge dismissed, citing 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2)(A), which bars judicial review of any “order of removal pursuant to” the expedited removal procedure in 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1)(A)(i). The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Although Odei was not subjected to expedited removal, an “order of removal” refers to both an order to remove and an order that an alien is removable. Odei challenged the latter; the jurisdictional bar applies. View "Odei v. United States Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for judicial review of a final order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ordering Petitioner removed to his homeland of Cape Verde and denying his motions to terminate removal proceedings, holding that the BIA's order of removal was in accordance with law. On appeal, Petitioner argued that because the notice to appear (NTA) that initiated the removal proceedings against him did not include the date and time of his contemplated hearing, it was a defective charging instrument and thus ineffectual to commence removal proceedings. Consequently, Petitioner argued, the immigration court did not acquire jurisdiction over his removal proceedings and the agency's final order of removal was a nullity. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) Petitioner's NTA complied with the regulations as reasonably interpreted by the BIA, and therefore, the NTA was effective to confer jurisdiction upon the immigration court; (2) Petitioner's motions to terminate his removal proceedings were properly denied; and (3) the BIA's final order of removal was lawful. View "Goncalves Pontes v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit granted a petition for review challenging the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that the IJ and BIA erred in deciding that petitioner's conviction for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is a conviction for a particularly serious crime, making him ineligible for withholding of removal. In this case, the IJ and BIA failed to correctly apply the analysis articulated in In re N-A-M-, skipping right over the preliminary consideration of elements. Therefore, on remand, the agency should first determine whether the elements of petitioner's offense potentially fall within the ambit of a particularly serious crime. Only then may it proceed to consider the facts and circumstances particular to petitioner's case. The court also held that the IJ failed to observe the rule articulated in Abdulai v. Ashcroft, 239 F.3d 542, 554 (3d Cir. 2001), requiring immigration judges to notify a noncitizen in removal proceedings that he is expected to present corroborating evidence before finding that failure to present such evidence undermines his claim. Therefore, the court must remand for a new corroboration determination. View "Luziga v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Derivative beneficiaries of an alien entrepreneur in the immigrant investor program (EB-5 program), who receive conditional legal permanent resident status (LPR), are entitled to the same review rights in removal proceedings as the alien entrepreneur. Therefore, the Ninth Circuit held that, in removal proceedings, an IJ's failure to review the denial of an I-829 petition (even though the alien is a beneficiary of the petition) is error. In this case, the BIA erred in failing to review the denial of the petition of petitioner's father. The panel also held that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's request for a continuance and motion to reconsider. Accordingly, the panel granted in part and denied in part petitioner's petitions for review of the BIA's decision. View "Hui Ran Mu v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Under the now-repealed 8 U.S.C. 1432(a)(2), a “child” born outside of the U.S. to noncitizen parents became a citizen upon the naturalization of her surviving parent if one of her parents was deceased. Section 1101(c)(1) defined “child” as including a child born out of wedlock only if the child was legitimated under the “law of the child’s residence or domicile” or “the law of the father’s residence or domicile . . . except as otherwise provided in” section 1432, which exempted mothers of born-out-of-wedlock children from the legitimation requirement. That affirmative steps to verify paternity, including legitimation, may be taken if a citizen-parent is an unwed father has withstood constitutional scrutiny, on the basis that the relation between a mother and a child “is verifiable from the birth.” Tineo was born in the Dominican Republic to noncitizen parents who never married. His father moved to the U.S. and naturalized. His noncitizen mother died. At the time, under the laws of either the Dominican Republic or New York, legitimation could only occur if his birth parents married. Tineo’s father was forever precluded from having his son derive citizenship through him, despite being a citizen and having cared for his son. Threatened with removal, Tineo brought a Fifth Amendment challenge on behalf of his now-deceased father. The Third Circuit held that, in this circumstance, the interplay of the statutory sections are inconsistent with the equal-protection mandate of the Due Process Clause. View "Tineo v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner's motion to reopen as untimely, holding that the grounds that the BIA gave for rejecting Petitioner's arguments were not sustainable and thus could not support the BIA's decision to reject Petitioner's motion as untimely. Petitioner, a Guatemalan national who entered the United States without inspection, faced the prospect of removal on the basis of a 2010 BIA decision denying her asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. Years later, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen and sought to excuse the untimeliness of the motion on the basis of changed country conditions in Guatemala. The BIA denied the motion as untimely. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's decision and remanded, holding that sufficient evidence did not support the BIA's grounds for rejecting Petitioner's changed country arguments, and therefore, the BIA erred in rejecting Petitioner's motion as untimely. View "Perez-Tino v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal in light of Matter of Castro-Tum, 27 I. & N. Dec. 271 (A.G. 2018). In Castro-Tum, the Attorney General concluded that IJs and the BIA do not have the general authority to administratively close cases. The court held that 8 C.F.R. 1003.10(b) and 1003.1(d)(1)(ii) unambiguously confer upon IJs and the BIA the general authority to administratively close cases. The court held that Castro-Tum was not entitled to Auer deference and, in the absence of such deference, the court applied Skidmore deference. In this case, the court explained that a court reviewing Castro-Tum for Skidmore deference would not be persuaded to adopt the agency's own interpretation of its regulation for substantially the same reasons it was not entitled to Auer deference: because it represents a stark departure, without notice, from long-used practice and thereby cannot be deemed consistent with earlier and later pronouncements. Therefore, the BIA's decision should be vacated and and remanded for further proceedings. View "Zuniga Romero v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision finding petitioner ineligible for cancellation of removal because he sustained a prior conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude when he was convicted of theft by receiving in violation of Nebraska law. The court also held that Ali v. Barr, 924 F.3d 983, 986 (8th Cir. 2019), foreclosed petitioner's claim that neither the IJ nor the BIA had subject matter jurisdiction over his removal proceedings, because the initial notice to appear served on petitioner did not include information about when and where to appear. View "Inzunza Reyna v. Barr" on Justia Law