Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Meraz-Saucedo, a citizen of Mexico, is married to a Mexican citizen with whom he has young U.S.-citizen children. Meraz-Saucedo first attempted to enter the U.S. in 2003 and was returned to Mexico. He re-entered the U.S. without inspection in 2004. In 2013, he was served in removal proceedings, 8 U.S.C. 1229(a). The notice did not contain a specific date or time for the initial hearing. On December 4, 2013, Meraz-Saucedo received a Notice of Hearing, informing him of the date and time. Meraz-Saucedo appeared before the IJ with counsel, did not object to the defective notice, conceded removability under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i), and informed the IJ that he sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture, based on his purported fear of persecution and torture if removed to Mexico. He testified about physical abuse and threats his family received from the Sinaloa Cartel.The IJ denied relief. While his appeal was pending, he sought remand to apply for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b). The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Meraz-Saucedo forfeited his arguments concerning the defective notice and failed to present sufficient evidence that he would be tortured at the hands of, or with the acquiescence of, a government official. View "Meraz-Saucedo v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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Diaz entered the U.S. without inspection in 1995. He was placed in deportation proceedings. The notice of his hearing did not reach him. Zelaya failed to appear. A final order of deportation was entered in his absence. Zelaya later left the U.S. but re-entered before December 30, 1998. In 2014, following a traffic-related arrest, Zelaya successfully moved to reopen his deportation case. At a 2018 hearing, Zelaya moved for administrative closure of his deportation proceeding to allow “repapering,” by which a deportation proceeding that began under pre-1996 law can be converted into a cancellation-of-removal proceeding under 1996 legislation, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b), to enable Zelaya to seek cancellation of removal, for which he is apparently legally eligible.The BIA ordered voluntary deportation, citing the Attorney General’s 2018 opinion, which sharply restricted the ability of immigration judges and the Board to close cases administratively. The Seventh Circuit granted a petition for review, noting that it has previously held that the Attorney General’s directive was contrary to law; “immigration regulations plainly grant immigration judges broad authority and discretion to take ‘any action … that is appropriate and necessary for the disposition’” of their cases. The BIA did not exercise its discretion according to law, guided by factors enumerated in earlier precedent. View "Diaz v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the IJ's and BIA's decisions denying petitioner's request to defer his removal to Somalia under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner had entered the United States in 2001 under a false passport and was previously ordered removed. Petitioner then moved to reopen his case, which the BIA granted, remanding the case to the IJ where petitioner's request was denied.The court affirmed the IJ's and BIA's judgments, holding that substantial evidence supported the conclusions that petitioner was unlikely to be tortured for minority-clan membership. The court rejected petitioner's challenge to the IJ's and BIA's conclusions that any torture by Al-Shabaab does not qualify for CAT relief because the Somali government would not acquiesce in such torture. Rather, the court concluded that substantial evidence supported the IJ's and BIA's conclusions that the Somali government was unlikely to acquiesce in any torture by Al-Shabaab. Finally, the court concluded that the IJ and BIA properly considered the risk of torture in the aggregate. View "Hassan v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, aliens unlawfully in the United States seeking U-Visas, filed suit alleging that DHS unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed adjudication of their U-Visa petitions and their applications for work authorization pending U-Visa approval.The Fourth Circuit held that it lacked the power to review plaintiffs' work-authorization claims here because the agency is not required to adjudicate plaintiffs' requests. The court explained that, under the Administrative Procedure Act and All Writs Act, it can only compel faster agency action if the agency is required to act. In this case, neither congressional statutes nor agency regulations compel the agency to adjudicate these requested pre-waiting-list work authorizations. However, the court may review plaintiffs' claim that DHS unreasonably delayed adjudicating their U-Visa petitions. Furthermore, plaintiffs have pleaded sufficient facts to avoid dismissal of their claim for unreasonable delay in placing them on the waiting list. Accordingly, the court dismissed plaintiffs' claims relating to their requests for pre-waiting-list work authorization and remanded plaintiffs' claim relating to U-Visa adjudications. View "Fernandez Gonzalez v. Cuccinelli" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241, and remanded for application of the standard from Mt. Healthy City Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274 (1977), the default rule for First Amendment retaliation claims.The panel held that the Supreme Court's recent decision in Nieves v. Bartlett, 139 S. Ct. 1715 (2019), holding that the presence of probable cause generally defeats a retaliatory criminal arrest claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, does not apply to a noncitizen's claim that ICE unconstitutionally retaliated against him for his speech when revoking his bond and rearresting him. In this case, petitioner had been detained by ICE and released on bond in 2018. After petitioner spoke publicly at a rally in 2019 and read his poem, entitled "Dear America," in which he criticized ICE practices, ICE revoked his bond and re-arrested him. The panel explained that Nieves is not applicable because problems of causation that may counsel for a no probable cause standard are less acute in the habeas context. Furthermore, Nieves arose out of the criminal arrest context where "evidence of the presence or absence of probable cause for the arrest will be available in virtually every retaliatory arrest case." The panel explained that this reasoning does not translate to the immigration bond revocation context. View "Bello-Reyes v. Gaynor" on Justia Law

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E.A., a citizen of El Salvador unlawfully entered the U.S. in 2016, at age 12, as an unaccompanied minor and was released to her mother, who resided in New York. Shortly thereafter, the family relocated to Arkansas, where E.A. filed a successful Motion to Change Venue to Memphis and a Change of Address Form. Latino Memphis (LM) represented E.A. pro bono. In January 2018. LM appeared on behalf of E.A. in a telephonic hearing. E.A.'s master-calendar hearing was scheduled for June 2018 in Memphis. In April 2018, LM moved to withdraw, stating that E.A. had moved out of its covered geographic area to New York. E.A. failed to appear and was ordered removed in absentia. In November, E.A., moved to reopen, represented by Catholic Charities. E.A. asserted that she was unable to obtain legal counsel to assist her in changing her hearing location after returning to New York. E.A.’s mother had given birth 10 days before E.A.’s hearing. E.A. asserted that she was eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). The IJ denied E.A.’s request to reopen and did not address SIJS. The BIA affirmed.The Sixth Circuit vacated the removal order and remanded. Based on the totality of the circumstances, including E.A. mother’s recent childbirth, E.A.’s age, E.A.’s mother’s failed attempts to obtain counsel to help change the hearing address, and E.A.’s inability to travel alone for the hearing, E.A. established exceptional circumstances. View "E. A. C. A. v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated and remanded the ruling of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner's claims for asylum and withholding of removal, holding that substantial evidence did not support the BIA's finding that Petitioner lacked a reasonable basis for his fear of being harmed on account of his membership in a particular social group.Petitioner, an Iraqi citizen, sought relief from removal on the grounds of asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner asserted that he feared he would be subjected to harm in Iraq at the hands of members of Iraq's military or civilian insurgents in Iraq on account of his work as a paid contractor for the United States Army during the war in Iraq. The BIA denied all claims. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's decision in part, holding (1) the record evidence failed to support the BIA's affirmance of the immigration judge's finding that Petitioner did not sufficiently show that he had an objectively reasonable basis for fearing that he would face harm in Iraq; and (2) the BIA properly denied Petitioner's claim for relief under the CAT. View "Al Amiri v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's determination that petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof for asylum, withholding of removal, or relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The BIA noted that petitioner never testified or submitted evidence claiming any actual injury caused by the Taliban, or that the Taliban individually targeted or attacked him for any reason. The BIA also concluded that the IJ provided petitioner due process where there was no indication in the transcript or the appeal that he did not understand the proceedings or that there were facts he was "unable to present."The panel held that the IJ provided petitioner due process by providing details about the structure of the hearing, the availability of counsel, and asking numerous questions through which petitioner had ample opportunity to develop his testimony. Furthermore, petitioner failed to show substantial prejudice. The panel also held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's conclusion that petitioner did not suffer past persecution where petitioner never alleged he was personally targeted by the Taliban and his testimony was consistent with an environment of generalized violence. Furthermore, the Pakistani government is not unwilling or unable to prevent harm and it would not be unreasonable for petitioner to relocate within Pakistan. Finally, the panel held that substantial evidence supports the BIA's determination that petitioner cannot meet his burden to obtain CAT protection. View "Hussain v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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Resettlement agencies filed suit challenging President Trump's Executive Order 13,888, which drastically alters the system by which the federal government resettles refugees across the United States. The order creates an "opt-in" system requiring that both a state and a locality provide their affirmative consent before refugees will be resettled there. Plaintiffs challenge the Order and notice implementing the order, asserting that they violate the Refugee Act, principles of federalism, and the Administrative Procedure Act.The Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Order and Notice. The court concluded that plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on their claim that the Order and Notice violate the carefully crafted scheme for resettling refugees that Congress established in the Refugee Act. The court explained that, at bottom, the consent requirement in the Order and Notice is "incompatible with the overall statutory scheme governing" the refugee resettlement program. Furthermore, the court's conclusion regarding the many infirmities of the consent requirement is not altered by the government's reliance on the so-called "savings clause" of the Order. The court also concluded that the record supports the district court’s award of preliminary injunctive relief under the remaining factors of Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 555 U.S. 7 (2008). The court affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in issuing a nationwide injunction. View "HIAS, Inc. v. Trump" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Petitioner's habeas corpus petition after the Dominican Republic requested Petitioner for extradition, holding that the United States failed to file the necessary documents to support an extradition request.Upon receipt and review of the Dominican Republic's request to extradite Petitioner, the United States filed an extradition compliant. A federal magistrate judge certified Petitioner as eligible for extradition. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the Dominican Republic failed to provide the required documentation in its extradition request and that his extradition would violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) because the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had previously found that he qualified for CAT relief. The district court granted relief, finding both that the extradition was barred by the BIA's CAT determination and that the extradition request did not satisfy the documentary requirements of the Dominican Republic-United States Extradition Treaty. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court erroneously determined that the United States was bound by the BIA's prior determination awarding Petitioner CAT relief; but (2) the district court properly found that the documentation was insufficient to support an extradition request under the treaty. View "Aguasvivas v. Pompeo" on Justia Law