Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The Eleventh Circuit lacked jurisdiction to consider a petition challenging the Board's decision on appeal that preconclusion voluntary departure was not warranted in petitioner's case. Petitioner contends that he would have applied for preconclusion voluntary departure had the IJ told him about it. The court concluded that the Board's decision was within its independent discretion; that is, no matter what the IJ would have decided about preconclusion voluntary departure had it been raised, the Board had the authority to enforce its own judgment on the question. Furthermore, once the Board exercised that judgment and ordered removal, it cut off any jurisdiction the court might have had to consider the petition. View "Blanc v. United States Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Thayalan, a citizen of Sri Lanka, was apprehended near the U.S.– Mexico border after making an illegal entry. Thayalan expressed a fear of returning to Sri Lanka. The asylum officer found that Thayalan had demonstrated a credible fear of persecution Thayalan testified that in 2007, when he was about 16 years old, he was kidnapped and blindfolded by members of the Sri Lankan army. While he was detained, soldiers hit his head against a wall and punched him in the stomach. He also described 2019 incidents, when members of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) tried to extort money from him because of the EPDP’s false belief that he financially supported a rival political party.Thayalan was ordered removed based on findings that the army’s mistreatment of Thayalan did not rise to the level of persecution and the EPDP members targeted Thayalan for extortion because they wanted his money, not because of disapproval of any political opinion. Thayalan failed to establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of a ground protected by statute and was ineligible for both asylum and withholding of removal. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review, rejecting arguments that the past-persecution determination contravened its precedents and that substantial evidence did not support the agency’s determination about what motivated the EPDP’s extortion efforts.. View "Thayalan v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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DHS Agent Swivel saw someone whom he thought he recognized from a prior case. It was Santos-Portillo, a Honduran national who was in the U.S. illegally, having been deported in 2011. Agents staked out Santos-Portillo’s house, arrested Santos-Portillo. and took him to an ICE office, where he was fingerprinted. Agent Swivel then gave Santos-Portillo Miranda warnings and interrogated him. Santos-Portillo admitted he was from Honduras, that he had previously been deported, and that he had not obtained permission to return to the U.S. Santos-Portillo was charged with violating 8 U.S.C. 1326(a). At Santos-Portillo’s detention hearing Swivel testified that he neither sought nor secured an administrative arrest warrant to detain Santos-Portillo. Santos-Portillo unsuccessfully moved to suppress all post-arrest evidence, citing 8 U.S.C. 1357(a), which permits warrantless arrests only if agents have probable cause and have a “reason to believe . . . there is [a] likelihood of the person escaping before a warrant can be obtained.”Santos-Portillo was convicted and deported again. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. Section 1357(a) does not authorize courts to suppress evidence for violations of the provision. Based on a “proper respect for Congress’s role in determining the consequences of statutory violations,” the court rejected a request to exercise its discretion to create a suppression remedy. View "United States v. Santos-Portillo" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision concluding that petitioner was removable for having been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude (CIMT) within five years after the date of admission, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(i).The panel applied the two-step Chevron inquiry, concluding that: (1) the phrase "the date of admission" in section 1227(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) is ambiguous; and (2) the interpretation in Matter of Alyazji, 25 I. & N. Dec. 397 (BIA 2011), of that ambiguous phrase is "a permissible construction of the statute." The panel concluded that Alyazji, and its application in the unpublished BIA decision in this case, meet the requirements for Chevron deference set forth in United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U.S. 218, 226–27 (2001). The panel acknowledged that the Alyazji interpretation of section 1227(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) results in serious consequences when applied to petitioner, who is a Micronesian citizen, because he had less incentive to apply to become a legal permanent resident or naturalize as a United States citizen. View "Route v. Garland" on Justia Law

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In 1997, Romero, a citizen of Guatemala, was granted voluntary departure, having entered the U.S. without documentation. In 2011, Romero was removed. He returned almost immediately. When he was taken into custody, DHS notified Romero of its intent to reinstate his prior removal order. Romero expressed a fear of returning to Guatemala and was referred to an asylum officer, 8 C.F.R. 208.31(b). Finding that Romero had “a reasonable fear of persecution,” the asylum officer referred the matter to an IJ.The Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge provided the place of the hearing, noting that the date and time were “To Be Determined.” Romero subsequently received a Notice of Withdrawal-Only Hearing that included the date, time, and place. The IJ denied withholding of removal. Before the BIA, Romero cited the Supreme Court’s 2018 “Pereira” decision, and argued that “[a] notice of referral to [an] immigration judge is an analogous document to a notice to appear and must contain a location and a date and time for a removal hearing in order to create jurisdiction for an immigration court.”The BIA rejected Romero’s jurisdictional challenge, reasoning that it lacked the authority to grant the relief Mejia Romero sought – termination of the proceedings – in a withholding proceeding. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review. Romero’s Notice of Withholding-Only Hearing included the information required by the regulations. Pereira’s holding is not readily transferable to 8 C.F.R. 1003.14. View "Romero v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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In 2002, at the age of seven, Sanchez, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without inspection. In 2012, he obtained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status; DHS periodically granted him renewals. In 2019, Sanchez was charged in New Jersey with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. USCIS revoked Sanchez’s DACA status. DHS took him into custody and charged him as being present without having been admitted or paroled, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(9)(B)(ii).Sanchez applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and for relief under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ denied asylum, finding that Sanchez failed to meet the one-year filing deadline or show extraordinary circumstances; denied withholding of removal, finding the proposed social group was not cognizable; and denied his CAT claim, finding he did not demonstrate at least a 50 percent chance he would be tortured upon his return to Mexico. Two weeks after the IJ ordered Sanchez’s removal, his state criminal charges were dismissed.The BIA denied remand, citing then-Attorney General Sessions’ 2018 Castro-Tum holding that, under the regulations governing the Executive Office of Immigration Review, IJs and the BIA do not have the general authority to indefinitely suspend immigration proceedings by administrative closure unless a regulation or a previous judicially approved settlement expressly authorizes such an action. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded. The relevant regulations confer the general authority to administratively close cases to IJs and the BIA. View "Sanchez v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's request for cancellation of removal. The court concluded that petitioner's grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) did not obviate the need for him to demonstrate that he was "admitted" in order to be eligible for cancellation of removal. In this case, 8 U.S.C. 1254a(e) does not excuse section 1229b(a)'s admission requirement for TPS recipients.The court also concluded that petitioner's grant of TPS is not an "admission" for purposes of cancellation of removal. The court explained that its holding in Velasquez v. Barr, 979 F.3d 572, 578 (8th Cir. 2020), is thus limited to adjustment of status and does not bear on whether TPS is an admission for cancellation-of-removal purposes. Furthermore, the fact that section 1254a(f)(4) expressly provides that TPS time counts for these specific purposes indicates it does not apply for other purposes—like cancellation of removal. View "Artola v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision dismissing petitioner's appeal of the IJ's order determining that her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture (CAT) was abandoned, under 8 C.F.R. 1003.47(c). The IJ's decision was based on petitioner's failure to submit required biometrics or establish good cause for her failure to do so.The panel concluded that the IJ did not abuse its discretion in deeming petitioner's application as abandoned where the IJ twice warned petitioner if she did not provide her biometrics before the next hearing her application would be deemed abandoned, and petitioner did not follow the instructions. Furthermore, petitioner failed to request a continuance before her merits hearing to complete her biometrics and her counsel failed to show good cause for requesting such a continuance. The panel also concluded that the IJ did not abuse its discretion denying petitioner's final request for more time to obtain an attorney. Because petitioner's application for relief was properly found abandoned, the BIA correctly deemed moot any challenge to the denial of petitioner's previous request for a continuance to obtain evidentiary support for her application. Finally, petitioner was not deprived of a neutral arbiter. View "Gonzalez-Veliz v. Garland" on Justia Law

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In 1994, K.A., a citizen of Nigeria, entered the U.S. without documentation. In 1997, he married a U.S. citizen. He subsequently committed second-degree robbery (N.J. Stat. 2C:15-1) and received a 10-year sentence, and committed third-degree possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school (2C:35-7), resulting in a five-year sentence. K.A. was paroled in 2008. During removal proceedings, K.A. was stopped for DUI and was charged with using inmates’ personal information to submit fraudulent tax returns. K.A. unsuccessfully sought asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The Third Circuit denied K.A.’s petition for review.In 2014, Nigeria criminalized same-sex sexual relationships. K.A. had begun a sexual relationship with his male cellmate. K.A. realized that his “identity as a bisexual man [was] permanent” and moved to reopen his immigration proceedings, arguing changed country conditions in Nigeria. He asserted that his New Jersey drug conviction no longer qualified as an aggravated felony and expressed fear that he would be subjected to persecution as a member of the LGBT community. The BIA denied K.A.’s motion. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review. The 2000 New Jersey robbery conviction constitutes an aggravated felony “theft offense” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G), which constitutes a “particularly serious crime,” sections 1158(b)(2)(B)(i), 1231(b)(3)(B), and disqualifies an alien from seeking asylum. A conviction for a particularly serious crime coupled with a prison sentence of at least five years bars withholding of removal. View "K. A. v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit denied the petition for review challenging the Board's denial of petitioner's asylum application. Petitioner challenges only the IJ's alternative basis for denial of his petition—the exercise of discretion to deny asylum. The court concluded that petitioner failed to address the separate and dispositive determination that his application is statutorily time-barred, despite the government pointing out this deficiency in its brief. Consequently, this failure is fatal to his petition.The court also denied the petition for review challenging the Board's denial of petitioner's application for withholding of removal. The court concluded that petitioner failed to establish any of the elements necessary for withholding of removal where the record does not show that he is likely to suffer persecution due to his experience as a witness to an incident of gang violence twenty years ago—much less that there is no substantial evidence to support the IJ's determination to that effect. In this case, the Board's conclusion that petitioner would not suffer future harm upon return to Mexico was supported by substantial evidence. View "Guzman-Garcia v. Garland" on Justia Law