Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeal affirming the judgment of the probate court denying Petitioner's petition to issue the predicate findings he needed to support an application to the federal government for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status, holding that the probate court applied an incorrect legal framework in ruling on Petitioner's petition.Petitioner, who left his native El Salvador at the age of sixteen to escape gang violence, filed an SIJ petition the day after he turned eighteen. The probate court denied the petition, and the court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with direction that the case be remanded to the probate court for issuance of SIJ predicate findings, holding that returning Petitioner to live in El Salvador would be detrimental to his best interest under California law. View "In re Guardianship of Saul H." on Justia Law

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Petitioner pleaded guilty, without counsel, to six misdemeanor theft charges. The BIA later concluded that his petty theft convictions were crimes involving moral turpitude that rendered him ineligible for cancellation of removal. Petitioner moved the Superior Court, through counsel and pursuant to Cal. Penal Code Section 1018, to withdraw his guilty pleas and set aside his convictions.The Superior Court granted his motion, and Petitioner pleaded guilty to violating Cal. Penal Code Section 368(d), theft from an elder adult. Petitioner moved to reopen his immigration proceedings. The BIA granted the motion but ultimately decided that Petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof as to the nature of the vacatur of his convictions.Granting Petitioner’s petition for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, and remanding, the Ninth Circuit held that: 1.) an applicant for cancellation of removal bears the burden of proving that a conviction was vacated because of a substantive or procedural defect in the criminal proceedings, and not solely for immigration purposes or for rehabilitative or equitable reasons; and 2.) Petitioner carried this burden of proof.The court explained that vacated convictions remain valid for immigration purposes if they are vacated solely for reasons unrelated to the merits of the underlying criminal proceedings, that is, equitable, rehabilitative, or immigration reasons. However, a conviction vacated on the basis of a defect in the underlying criminal proceedings is no longer valid for immigration purposes. Next, the court concluded that Petitioner carried that burden, explaining that the record compelled the conclusion that his convictions were vacated due to legal defects in his pleas. View "LUIS BALLINAS-LUCERO V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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The BIA concluded that Petitioner’s CPC Section 136.1(b)(1) convictions were offenses relating to obstruction of justice under Section 1101(a)(43)(S). In light of Valenzuela Gallardo I, and after Petitioner filed a petition for review, this court granted an unopposed motion to remand. The BIA then decided Matter of Valenzuela Gallardo, 27 I. & N. Dec. 449 (BIA 2018), modifying its definition of “an offense relating to obstruction of justice” to include: “offenses covered by chapter 73 of the Federal criminal code or any other Federal or State offense” involving certain conduct motivated by a specific intent—as relevant here—“to interfere either in an investigation or proceeding that is ongoing, pending, or reasonably foreseeable by the defendant.”The Ninth Circuit granted Petitioner’s petition for review and remanding, the court held that dissuading or attempting to dissuade a witness from reporting a crime, in violation of Section 136.1(b)(1), is not a categorical match to “an offense relating to obstruction of justice” aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43)(S). The government argued that Valenzuela Gallardo II left untouched the first prong of the BIA’s definition from Matter of Valenzuela Gallardo—“offenses covered by chapter 73 of the Federal criminal code.”The court rejected the government’s new position as flatly inconsistent with Valenzuela Gallardo II’s requirement of a nexus to an ongoing or pending proceeding or investigation. The court concluded that CPC Section 136.1(b)(1) is not a categorical match with Section 1512 because the California statute lacks the requirement, in Section 1512(b)(3), that an individual “uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person,” or “engages in misleading conduct toward another person.” View "FERNANDO CORDERO-GARCIA V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitions for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals denying his application for relief from removal to Iraq. The Eighth Circuit concluded that there is no basis to set aside the decision of the Board, and denied the petition for review.Petitioner first challenges the Board’s conclusion that he is removable under 8 U.S.C. Section 1227(a)(2)(E)(i) as an alien convicted of a crime of child abuse. Congress did not define “crime of child abuse,” but the Board has defined the term in a series of precedential decisions, and Petitioner does not challenge the agency’s definition. The court explained that under the categorical approach the court considers whether the elements of the offense necessarily fit within the Board’s generic definition. The court wrote that it does not examine the specific facts of Petitioner’s case, but instead presumes that his conviction rested on the least of the acts criminalized by the Nebraska statute. Moncrieffe v. Holder, 569 U.S. 184 (2013).Further, the court held that the Board reasonably concluded that the lesser charge did not diminish the gravity of the crime to the point where an offense involving serious bodily injury to a six-month-old was not particularly serious. The Board did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Petitioner was convicted of a particularly serious crime. Moreover, the court wrote that to the extent that Petitioner also challenges the Board’s weighing of the evidence in affirming the IJ’s decision, this court lacks jurisdiction to review the Board’s discretionary determination. View "Raad Al-Masaudi v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Defendant Andrew Gregor, a naturalized citizen from Australia, pleaded guilty to a felony sex offense that was later reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed after early termination of probation. After he was informed he was not able to sponsor his father for a family visa due to this conviction, defendant filed a motion pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7 and sought to withdraw his plea claiming he was unable to meaningfully understand, defend against, or knowingly accept the adverse immigration consequences of his conviction. The trial court denied the motion; defendant appealed. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "California v. Gregor" on Justia Law

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Bonds posted a $200,000 bail bond for Quinones-Arias. North was the surety and guaranteed the defendant’s appearance. Quinones-Arias did not appear at a plea hearing on December 17, 2018. The court declared the bond forfeited and issued a $200,000 bench warrant. A notice of forfeiture was mailed to the companies, advising that the forfeiture would become final on July 14, 2019 (180 days plus five days for mailing) unless the defendant is surrendered. On July 8, 2019, Bonds moved to toll the 180-day period based on temporary disability (Pen. Code 1305(e)), or alternatively to extend the time to return Quinones-Arias to court. (1305.4), arguing that Quinones-Arias’s detention and deportation constituted a temporary disability. A bail agent is entitled to tolling during a period of disability and for a reasonable time thereafter. The prosecutor stated that the Department of Homeland Security indicated that Quinones-Arias was not deported but voluntarily departed. The court denied the motion, finding that Quinones-Arias had voluntarily left the country and the bail agent had made no effort to return or surrender Quinones-Arias, or request his extradition.The court of appeal reversed, noting the state’s concession that Quinones-Arias was under a temporary disability when he failed to appear and the disability continued throughout the 180-day appearance period. View "People v. North River Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirming the denial of his application for cancellation of removal. The Fourth Circuit granted Petitioner’s petition for review, vacated the order of removal, and remanded to the BIA for further proceedings. The court held that the BIA failed to address whether Petitioner’s case should be remanded to a new immigration judge (“IJ”) under Matter of Y-S-L-C-, 26 I. & N. Dec. 688 (BIA 2015).The court explained that while Petitioner’s s brief to the BIA makes clear that his primary focus was to persuade the BIA to reverse the IJ’s decision, the court noted that it also shows he presented an alternative argument seeking remand before a new IJ under Matter of Y-S-L-C-. Accordingly the court found that Petitioner sufficiently exhausted his claim that this case should be remanded to a new IJ under Matter of Y-S-L-C-.The court further found that the government’s analysis glosses over one key point: the BIA in Matter of Y-S-L-C- never definitively concluded that—or fully analyzed whether— the IJ’s actions constituted a due process violation. Therefore, the BIA’s decision not to state that the IJ’s conduct prejudiced the fifteen-year-old applicant supports Petitioner’s interpretation of the Matter of Y-S-L-C- holding as independent of a due process violation. View "Rodolfo Tinoco Acevedo v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner a citizen and native of Eritrea, petitions for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals denying relief under the Convention Against Torture. An immigration judge granted Petitioner deferral of removal under the Convention, but the Board reversed that finding on administrative appeal, and Petitioner was ordered removed to Eritrea.   The Eighth Circuit denied the petition. On appeal, Petitioner argues that the agency impermissibly concluded that his testimony was not credible. The court held that the credibility finding here was supported by substantial evidence, explaining that the immigration judge reasonably concluded that Petitioner’s failure to mention significant facts about alleged imprisonment and torture to the asylum officer undermined the credibility of his later claim at the immigration hearing.   Petitioner also contends that the absence of a Kunama interpreter at the hearing in immigration court denied him due process. The IJ here took a number of steps to ensure that Petitioner could participate adequately in the hearing. After the immigration court was unable to secure an interpreter in Petitioner’s preferred language, the court arranged the next best option with a Tigrinya interpreter.   Finally, the court upheld the Board’s conclusion that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support the IJ’s finding that Petitioner likely would be tortured. The court explained that the Board adequately explained that anecdotal reports of imprisonment of returnees from Sudan, and reports of torture at the prison, are not sufficient to support a finding that Petitioner, in particular, is likely to be imprisoned and tortured if returned to Eritrea. View "Nani Keta v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner entered the United States as a refugee in New York City, New York when he was 16 years old. His status was subsequently adjusted to lawful permanent resident on June 26, 1999. Petitioner’s parents became naturalized citizens in 2003 and 2006 but Petitioner’s application was denied due to a returned check for the processing fees. The IJ issued her decision denying Petitioner’s application for asylum on the grounds that he failed to demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion or clan membership. The IJ reasoned that while Petitioner had expressed a subjectively genuine fear of persecution based on the posting of the music video, he had failed to demonstrate his fear was objectively reasonable. Petitioner petitions for review of the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) dismissing his appeal.The Eighth Circuit denied his petition. The court explained that when considering Petitioner’s claims, “we lack jurisdiction to review factual findings and may only review constitutional claims or questions of law.” Petitioner has presented no cognizable basis that would prohibit the BIA from remanding for the development of the record on an issue that the record shows was not plainly argued or developed. While Petitioner asserted generally that he was threatened by al-Shabaab and Muslim families because of the music video, he never explicitly claimed that he was being threatened because he was Muslim. Collateral estoppel is inapplicable because all decisions at issue were made at different stages of the same action. View "Omar Osman Mohamed v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the United States post-removal in violation of 8 U.S.C. Section 1326(a). He was sentenced to twenty-one months of imprisonment and one year of supervised release. During his sentencing hearing, the district court stated that it was imposing the “standard and mandatory conditions of supervision.” Defendant did not object. The written judgment included the standard risk notification condition contained in U.S.S.G. Section 5D1.3(c)(12). Defendant subsequently appealed the imposition of this condition, claiming that the district court plainly erred by impermissibly delegating its judicial authority to a probation officer.The Fifth Circuit affirmed. In considering United States v. Mejia-Banegas, 32 F.4th 450 (5th Cir. 2022), the court wrote that in that case, the court unequivocally held that the same “risk-notification condition does not impermissibly delegate the court’s judicial authority to the probation officer. The court held that Mejia-Banegas conclusively resolves Defendant’s appeal: The risk-notification condition is not an impermissible delegation of judicial authority. View "USA v. Pinon-Saldana" on Justia Law