Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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In 1993, Kaur’s parents arranged her marriage to Singh, an abusive alcoholic. They moved to the Philippines, where Singh’s abuse worsened. Their first three children were girls, which angered Singh, who tried to force her to abort her third pregnancy. In 2001, Kaur and one of her daughters entered the U.S. on visitor visas. , Kaur gave birth to a son. Singh and another daughter arrived in the U.S. later in 2001. Singh continued to abuse Kaur and the children. Neighbors called the police several times, but Singh forced Kaur to lie. Singh was deported in 2007, after a DUI arrest. Singh died in 2013 from alcohol-related illnesses. Kaur's in-laws told her that if she returned to India, they would have her killed.In 2001, Kaur and Singh had applied for asylum. Kaur’s asylum application falsely stated that militants in the Philippines had raped her. The application was denied. Kaur filed four motions to reopen. The final unsuccessful motion asserted material changed circumstances arising in Kaur’s country of nationality under 8 C.F.R. 1003.2(c)(3)(ii).The Ninth Circuit remanded. Kaur’s personal circumstances in India changed in a way entirely outside her control and, relatedly, violence against women has materially increased in India. These situations together constitute changed country circumstances. The BIA also erred in its analysis of whether Kaur established a prima facie case for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. View "Kaur v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) includes expedited procedures to remove certain inadmissible aliens arriving at the border, 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1). The plaintiffs, inadmissible aliens caught trying to enter the country, sought asylum, or claimed to fear persecution had received adverse credible-fear determinations. They challenged the administration of credible-fear interviews under IIRIRA and the Transit Rule, which provides that aliens seeking to enter the U.S. at the southern border are ineligible for asylum unless they have already applied for asylum in a country through which they traveled while en route.They cited 11 sub-regulatory policies: Aliens receive no meaningful guidance on how interviews are conducted; interviewers are improperly trained; interviewers make decisions before the interview is complete; interviewers do not produce an adequate record. interviews are adversarial; interviews occur without adequate notice; interviews occur without access to counsel; interviewers do not apply the proper circuit precedent; credible-fear determinations are automatically reviewed for fraud; interviewers do not adequately state the basis for their decisions; children are subjected to long, adversarial interviews.The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. IIRIRA barred its review of 10 of the cited policies because either the policy was unwritten or the challenges to it were untimely View "M.M.V. v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit denied a petition for review challenging the BIA's decision denying petitioner's motion to reopen immigration proceedings after the IJ denied petitioner's applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In this case, the IJ sustained charges of removeability against petitioner, who is a native and citizen of Jamaica living in the United States, after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.The court concluded that it lacks jurisdiction to review the BIA's decision declining to reopen petitioner's proceedings sua sponte, but the court has jurisdiction over the remaining issues in the petition under 8 U.S.C. 1252(a). The court concluded that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to reopen in part because it contained no evidence to warrant reconsideration of the conclusion that petitioner had failed to establish official acquiescence. The court emphasized that petitioner's motion to reopen fails not because it contained unconvincing evidence of official acquiescence, but because it contained no such evidence. Petitioner fails the materiality requirement—and falls short of the procedural hurdle—because she presented no evidence addressing a core deficiency of her application. The court explained that, had she produced such evidence, the BIA could then move to the substantive hurdle and evaluate whether the evidence established a reasonable likelihood that she can establish that she is entitled to relief. Finally, the court rejected petitioner's due process claims, concluding that petitioner has no protectible expectation of entitlement of relief. In any event, the court was confident that the BIA reviewed the evidence petitioner presented and applied the presumption of regularity to its determination. View "Darby v. Attorney General of the United States" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's order affirming an IJ's discretionary denial of petitioner's application for asylum and grant of withholding of removal. The court concluded that when an asylum applicant is denied asylum but granted withholding of removal, 8 C.F.R. 1208.16(e) requires reconsideration anew of the discretionary denial of asylum, including addressing reasonable alternatives available to the petitioner for family reunification. And where the IJ has failed to do so, the BIA must remand for the IJ to conduct the required reconsideration.In this case, the IJ failed to consider petitioner's asylum claim under section 1208.16(e). Therefore, the BIA's failure to remand on this issue was manifestly contrary to law and an abuse of discretion. The court explained that it is clear that neither the IJ nor the BIA conducted the proper reconsideration because the record contained no information about petitioner's ability to reunite with his family, information that the agency must review under section 1208.16(e). Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's order and remanded to the BIA with instructions to remand to the IJ for reconsideration of the discretionary denial of asylum. View "Thamotar v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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In 2001, Flores-Perez was detained on the belief that he was in the country illegally. Flores-Perez produced two forms of state-issued identification, each containing his address. Officials served Flores-Perez with a Notice to Appear (NTA), alleging that Flores-Perez was a citizen of Mexico who had illegally entered the U.S. Immigration officials wrote an incorrect address—Apartment 132—on the NTA, which Flores-Perez nonetheless signed. No interpreter assisted with the initial processing. As Flores-Perez left, he was given several relevant documents, including a copy of the NTA he had signed, and told, in Spanish, that he would receive another document in the mail. The immigration court sent a Notice of Hearing to the incorrect address; it was returned because “no such number” existed. When Flores-Perez did not attend the hearing, the IJ proceeded in absentia and ordered Flores-Perez removed. The removal order was also returned. In 2009, immigration officials arrested Flores-Perez and deported him days later. Flores-Perez unlawfully returned to the U.S. that year.In 2018, he was arrested while attempting to break into an apartment and charged with reentry after deportation, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a). Flores-Perez argued that his indictment should be dismissed because he did not receive adequate notice of his 2003 removal hearing. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the rejection of his claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Flores-Perez failed to challenge his removal order until filing this collateral challenge, nearly 20 years later, and after he was deported due. View "United States v. Flores-Perez" on Justia Law

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In 1994, Ahmed and Wahasi allegedly were married. Ahmed lives in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Wahasi and their sons, all Yemeni citizens, live in Malaysia. In 2008, Ahmed filed an I-130 petition on behalf of his wife and sons, which was approved. Ahmed’s wife and children visited the U.S. consulate in Yemen to apply for visas. Consular officials grew suspicious that they were not who they said they were, requested additional proof of identification, and placed the applications into “administrative processing.” In 2017, Presidential Proclamation 9645 made it more difficult for Yemeni nationals to receive visas to enter the U.S. Ahmed and his family joined a lawsuit that challenged the validity of the Proclamation and the way in which the government handled their visas. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Proclamation 9645. The U.S. consulate denied the family’s visa applications due to lingering concerns about their identities and sent Ahmed’s I-130 petition to USCIS for “review and possible revocation.”Ahmed and his family moved to amend their complaint to challenge the visa denials and the potential revocation of Ahmed’s I-130 petition. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, stating it has no authority to second guess the visa decisions of the American consulate. Noncitizens living abroad do not have any American constitutional rights. American residents, whether citizens or legal residents, do not have a constitutional right to require the government to admit non-citizen family members. View "Baaghil v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The government sought to revoke defendant's citizenship based on his role as a former Salvadorian military officer in extrajudicial killings and a subsequent cover-up occurring during armed conflict in El Salvador. The district court conducted a three-day bench trial and declined to cancel defendant's American citizenship.The Fifth Circuit found that, although defendant may have refused to actually shoot civilians, he "assisted" and "participated in the commission of" extrajudicial killings during the Salvadorian Civil War, rendering him statutorily ineligible to assume the "high privilege" of American citizenship. In this case, defendant captured the innocent civilians who were killed; he detained them knowing that their unlawful deaths were imminent; and he thoroughly helped with the coverup and coached others to do the same. The court concluded that these actions—undisputed by the parties—show that defendant assisted and participated in the extrajudicial killing of ten Salvadorians at San Sebastian. Therefore, he was not a person of good moral character, was not eligible to become a citizen, and illegally procured his citizenship. Accordingly, the district court erred in concluding otherwise, the court reversed the district court's judgment, and remanded. View "United States v. Vasquez" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review of the BIA's decision reversing the IJ's grant of deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In this case, Michoacán state police arrested and brutally tortured petitioner until she confessed to the kidnapping and murder of a five-year old boy. After her charges were dismissed, she fled to the United States.The panel held that the BIA erred by reviewing the IJ's decision de novo, rather than for clear error, and concluded that the record compelled the determination that petitioner met her burden of proof to establish that it is more likely than not that she will suffer future torture if removed to Mexico. The panel explained that, reviewed under the proper standard, the IJ's factual findings were not erroneous where the IJ found that the Michoacán state police tortured petitioner, and the revived arrest warrant guaranteed she would be placed back in custody of the Michoacán state police, who previously tortured her, precluding relocation. Furthermore, the state police officers specifically threatened to torture petitioner again if she reported their misconduct—which she did. Finally, the IJ considered the country condition reports showing an increased threat of torture for indigenous women. The panel remanded for the BIA to grant deferral of removal pursuant to the CAT. View "Soto-Soto v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Tobias-Chaves and her daughter traveled from Honduras and entered the U.S. in 2014, to escape from Tobias-Chaves’s abusive husband. DHS filed charges against them in Houston, where they were then living. That Immigration Court attempted to send Tobias-Chaves a Notice to Appear but because of a clerical error, she never received it. The court ordered the women removed in absentia. Two years later, Tobias-Chaves learned (and informed the courts) of the error. Her case was reopened in Houston. Tobias-Chaves applied for asylum. Her case was transferred to Memphis. There was then no immigration court in Louisville. An immigration court was created in Louisville in 2018, and the “Louisville docket” was transferred, including Tobias-Chaves’s case. There was no formal change of venue. Tobias-Chaves was not given an opportunity to dispute the change. The Louisville court held a hearing, at which her attorney argued that venue had never properly been transferred.The IJ denied Tobias-Chaves’s application for asylum and ordered her removed. The BIA affirmed, finding the “sua sponte change of venue” harmless error; Tobias-Chaves lived 75 miles from the Louisville location but more than 400 miles from the Memphis building. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Although the court violated procedural rules in transferring the proceeding, that violation was a procedural question relating to venue, not jurisdiction. In order to successfully challenge a procedural error such as an improper change of venue, a petitioner must show prejudice. Tobias-Chaves failed to do so. View "Tobias-Chaves v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Sanchez, a citizen of El Salvador, entered the U.S. unlawfully in 1997 and obtained Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 2001. TPS allows foreign nationals from countries designated by the government as having unusually bad or dangerous conditions to temporarily live and work in the U.S. In 2014, Sanchez unsuccessfully applied under 8 U.S.C. 1255 to obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Section 1255 provides a way for a “nonimmigrant”—a foreign national lawfully present in this country on a temporary basis—to obtain adjustment of status to LPR. The Third Circuit agreed that Sanchez’s unlawful entry precluded his eligibility for LPR status under section 1255, notwithstanding his TPS.A unanimous Supreme Court affirmed. Section 1255 provides that eligibility for LPR status generally requires an “admission,” the lawful entry of the alien into the U.S. after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer. Sanchez did not enter lawfully and his TPS does not eliminate the effect of that unlawful entry. Section 1254a(f)(4) provides that a TPS recipient who applies for permanent residency will be treated as having nonimmigrant status, the status traditionally and generally needed to invoke the section 1255 LPR process, but that provision does not address 1255’s separate admission requirement. Lawful status and admission are distinct concepts and establishing the former does not establish the latter. There are immigration categories in which individuals have nonimmigrant status without admission, so when Congress confers nonimmigrant status for purposes of 1255, but says nothing about admission, the Court has no basis for finding an unlawful entrant eligible to become an LPR. View "Sanchez v. Mayorkas" on Justia Law