Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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Omowole, a citizen of Nigeria, married her first husband, Festus, in 2007. Festus had won a diversity lottery visa for admission to the U.S. in 2006, and Omowole, as his spouse, was eligible for a derivative visa. By the time they emigrated (separately), months later they were estranged as a result of Festus’s disclosure that he had fathered a child with another woman before he married Omowole. Omowole settled in Indiana and Festus in California. The two never cohabited in the U.S. as husband and wife. In 2011, they divorced. Festus subsequently married the mother of his child. When he then attempted to become a naturalized U.S. citizen and sought lawful permanent resident status for his new wife and his child, USCIS investigated and determined his marriage to Omowole had been a sham entered into for the purpose of facilitating her entry into the United States.The Board of Immigration Appeals sustained the findings of two immigration judges that Omowole is removable for having procured an entry visa by fraud and not entitled to asylum or withholding of removal. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The decision rested on the immigration judges’ adverse findings as to Omowole’s credibility and that of her ex-husband, and those findings are supported by substantial evidence. View "Omowole v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision dismissing petitioner's appeal of the IJ's denial of her application for asylum and withholding of removal. The IJ and the BIA determined that petitioner failed to establish a nexus between either the harm she suffered or her fears of future persecution and her particular social group. The court concluded that petitioner fails to demonstrate that substantial evidence compels a different conclusion. Rather, the BIA and the IJ both correctly concluded that familial ties did not sufficiently motivate the Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel, to target petitioner and thus she has not established that she is eligible for asylum relief. Furthermore, petitioner fails to establish that she is eligible for withholding of removal. View "Vazquez-Guerra v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision concluding that petitioner was removeable and denial of his request for a form of cancellation of removal available to children who have been battered by parents who are lawful permanent residents. The court concluded that petitioner failed to exhaust his claim that the BIA engaged in improper fact finding, the issue is not before the court, and the issue will not be considered. Although the court has jurisdiction to review the predicate legal question whether the Board properly applied the law in determining eligibility, the court lacked jurisdiction to review an ultimate decision denying cancellation of removal as a matter of discretion. View "Mencia-Medina v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint challenging USCIS's denial of her application for naturalization because the complaint did not plausibly plead that plaintiff had not been convicted of an offense that involves fraud or deceit in which "the loss to the victim or victims exceeds $10,000," 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(M)(i), and therefore had the requisite good moral character.The panel concluded that under the "circumstance-specific" approach to the monetary threshold in section 1101(a)(43)(M)(i), the district court is not limited to reviewing the record in the applicant's criminal case in determining the "loss to the victim." Nevertheless, the panel concluded that the complaint here cannot survive a motion to dismiss, because it does not plausibly allege that the loss to the victim of the applicant's criminal offense did not exceed $10,000. In this case, plaintiff failed to state a plausible claim that the total loss to the victim of her violation of section 550(b)(3) of California Penal Code did not exceed $10,000 and thus she failed to plausibly allege that she was not convicted of an aggravated felony under section 1101(a)(43)(M)(i) and USCIS did not err in ruling that she failed to meet the good moral character requirement for naturalization. View "Estella Orellana v. Mayorkas" on Justia Law

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Ortiz, raised in Guatemala, suffered significant domestic abuse by her intoxicated father and later by her boyfriend, Carlos, who raped her. She became pregnant and, fearing aggravating her father’s violence, moved in with Carlos. Clinic records confirm that Carlos assaulted Ortiz during her pregnancy. Ortiz later discovered bruises on her newborn. Worried that Carlos would routinely abuse her baby, Ortiz returned to her parents. Her father had become gravely ill. She continued to fear Carlos, who had threatened to kill her if she left him. Ortiz fled to the U.S. and applied for asylum, 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(1)(A).An IJ denied her claim, holding that she failed to show that the Guatemalan government was unable or unwilling to control her abuser. The BIA affirmed, citing a State Department report noting that Guatemala had “taken steps” to curb domestic violence. About a week after the Board's final order, the Sixth Circuit decided “Antonio.” Ortiz unsuccessfully sought reconsideration, arguing that Antonio changed the asylum law. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review. Antonio relied on the totality of the evidence to reject the Board’s finding; the fact-specific rationales, in that case, do not transfer to Ortiz. The police twice ignored Antonio’s request for assistance, Ortiz never asked the authorities for help View "Ortiz v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's order affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture, based on adverse credibility grounds. In this case, petitioner sought relief from political persecution in his home country.The court concluded that the IJ and the BIA erred in treating three of the four instances of perceived inconsistencies as casting doubt on petitioner's credibility. The court explained that they did not involve inconsistency, at least not of the sort that can reasonably support doubt about the speaker's credibility. Although the fourth instance, unlike the first three, did indeed involve inconsistency, the court concluded that the inconsistency related to a trivial detail. Therefore, this trivial inconsistency by itself, without more, could not reasonably justify finding that petitioner is not credible. View "Singh v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Galvan, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. in 2003 on a six-month nonimmigrant visa but remained in this country with his wife, a citizen of Mexico without legal immigration status, and their four U.S.-citizen children. Galvan, twice convicted of DUI, applied for cancellation of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1229b, arguing that his removal would result in “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” for his children. His wife testified that Galvan had been the family’s main source of income, his absence during his detention had required her to work longer hours, which had impacted her ability to take care of the children. One child had been diagnosed with ADHD and suffers from anxiety; his wife was concerned that the children would not be able to participate in their established activities.While the IJ found all the witnesses credible, he denied Galvan’s application; Galvan met the temporal and good moral character criteria for cancellation and had not been convicted of any disqualifying offenses but failed as a matter of law to prove that his removal would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” The BIA affirmed. The Fourth Circuit denied a petition for review. While the statutory standard of “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” presents a mixed question of law and fact, giving the court jurisdiction, the IJ did not err in determining that Galvan failed to prove eligibility for cancellation of removal. View "Galvan v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying cancellation of removal to petitioner.The panel incorporated by reference the factual and procedural background of Marinelarena I that conspiracy under California Penal Code 182(a)(1) is overbroad but divisible as to the target crime, and that sale and transport of a controlled substance under California Health and Safety Code 11352, is overbroad and divisible as to controlled substance. The panel concluded that Pereida v. Wilkinson, 141 S. Ct. 754 (2021), is consistent with Marinelarena I, and that Petitioner failed to establish that her conviction did not involve a federally controlled substance. In regard to divisibility, the panel noted that no developments in the California Supreme Court since Marinelarena I undermined the panel's earlier divisibility analysis, and that the jury instructions relating to the conspiracy offense, as well as petitioner's underlying statute of conviction, support divisibility. In regard to the burden of proof, the panel explained that Marinelarena I is consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Pereida and that petitioner failed to establish that her conviction did not involve a federally controlled substance. The panel declined petitioner's invitation to remand to present additional evidence. Finally, the panel reaffirmed its conclusion that a conviction expunged under CPC 1203.4 remains a "conviction" for federal immigration purposes. View "Marinelarena v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the IJ's decision denying petitioner's request for cancellation of removal. The court concluded that the substitution of an immigration judge did not violate petitioner's due process rights. In this case, the second immigration judge not only stated that she had familiarized herself with the record but also elaborated on pertinent facts in that record. The court also concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review petitioner's challenge to the BIA's discretionary decision to deny his request for cancellation of removal. View "Avendano-Elvira v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Meza, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without being formally admitted or paroled in 1996, when he was nine years old. He has remained in this country ever since. He is married to another Mexican native, with whom he has five U.S.-citizen children. Meza’s parents also reside in the U.S. and have lawful permanent resident status. Around 2012, DHS initiated removal proceedings against him under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Meza applied for discretionary cancellation of removal under section 1229b(b), arguing that his removal would create exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his parents and his U.S.- citizen children.While his removal proceedings were pending, Meza was convicted of DUI. He collided with another vehicle. No one was injured, but the incident caused $5,000 in damage to the other car. Meza later pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle without a license and to operating a motor vehicle without insurance. He later pleaded guilty to failing to install an ignition interlock on his vehicle. Meza admitted that he used a fabricated social security number to obtain employment, 2003-2015. The BIA and Seventh Circuit upheld an IJ’s determination that Meza was ineligible for cancellation because he had failed to establish that he was a person of “good moral character.” View "Meza v. Garland" on Justia Law