Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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Appellant appealed the denial of his motion to withdraw his plea and vacate his conviction pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7, subdivision (a). The Legislature has declared that section 1473.7, as amended by Assembly Bill No. 2867, “shall be interpreted in the interests of justice and consistent with the findings and declarations made in Section 1016.2 of the Penal Code.” (Stats 2018, ch. 825, Section 1, subd. (c).)   As a result, the Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s order denying Appellant’s motion to withdraw his plea and vacate his conviction under Penal Code section 1473.7. The court remanded to the superior court with directions to grant the motion and vacate the conviction. The court concluded that Appellant has demonstrated a reasonable probability that if he had been properly advised of the immigration consequences of his plea, he would not have pleaded no contest to an offense that would subject him to mandatory deportation from the United States. Accordingly, the court wrote, that Appellant has carried his burden of establishing prejudicial error and is entitled to relief. View "P. v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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Manuel sued for wrongful termination after he was injured during the course of his employment with BrightView. The parties dispute whether Manuel’s employment was terminated in retaliation for his job injury or whether he failed to return to work due to federal immigration authorities questioning his eligibility to work in the United States. After Manuel objected to BrightView’s written discovery requests concerning his immigration status, BrightView obtained an order compelling Manuel to provide further responses to its discovery requests.The court of appeal vacated and directed the trial court to deny BrightView’s discovery motion. BrightView did not meet its burden, under Senate Bill No. 1818 (2002, codified, in part at Labor Code section 1171.5), to show that inquiry into his immigration status was necessary to comply with federal immigration law. Senate Bill 1818 declared that “[a]ll protections, rights, and remedies available under state law, except any reinstatement remedy prohibited by federal law, are available to all individuals regardless of immigration status who have applied for employment, or who are or who have been employed, in this state." A former employee’s status as an unauthorized worker is not a complete defense to a claim of wrongful termination. BrightView may not propound discovery inquiring into Manuel’s immigration status absent any showing of clear and convincing evidence that Manuel is seeking remedies for wrongful termination in violation of federal immigration law. View "Manuel v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County" 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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In 2014, Defendant was convicted of one count of injuring a cohabitant resulting in a traumatic condition under Penal Code section 273.5 after he entered a guilty plea to the offense. Shortly after his conviction, Defendant sought to revoke his plea on the ground that he wanted to secure an "immigration safe" plea, as he was fearful that a felony conviction would impact his status as a lawful permanent resident. The court denied Defendant's request.Subsequently, Defendant filed another motion to vacate under Penal Code section 1473.7, claiming that he would not have taken the plea had he known about the immigration consequences. Despite the prosecution agreeing to offer Defendant a misdemeanor in lieu of a felony, the court rejected Defendant's request. Defendant appealed.The Second Appellate District reversed. Section 1473.7 permits a court to grant a motion to vacate based on prejudicial error that doesn't necessarily rise to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held that Defendant demonstrated prejudicial error under Penal Code 1473.7 based on 1.) counsel's failure to advise him of the immigration consequences of his plea, 2.) counsel's failure to defend against deportation, and 3.) Defendant's subjective understanding of the consequences of his plea. Thus, the lower court erred in denying Defendant's motion to vacate. View "P. v. Manzanilla" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with felony counts of sale/transportation/offer to sell a controlled substance (count 1) and possession for sale of a controlled substance (count 2). He pled guilty to count 1, offer to sell oxycodone in exchange for 36 months of formal probation with the service of 180 days in county jail. Count 2 was dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement. Defendant’s attorney and the trial court advised him at that time that he would be deported based on his negotiated plea. Seven years later he found himself the subject of deportation proceedings.   The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction. The trial court factually found Defendant's credibility to be “severely lacking,” and his declaration was “deceptively phrased” to mislead the court that counsel had not recommended Defendant meet with an immigration attorney when counsel had, in fact, consulted with Defendant's immigration attorney.   The Second Appellate District affirmed and found that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion. The court explained that the plain and unambiguous language contained in the Felony Disposition Statement states: “If I am not a citizen and am pleading guilty to . . . a controlled substance offense, . . . I will be deported.”  The court explained that even on independent review, Defendant’s contentions fail. At the time of the plea proceeding, Defendant had lived in the United States for approximately seven years with his family. The contemplation of his life in Mexico, contemporaneous with his guilty plea, is persuasive evidence Defendant knew he would be deported. View "P. v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) entered into a contract with the City of Holtville (City) to detain noncitizens at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility (Facility). The City did not own the Facility, so the City subcontracted its detention responsibilities to the Facility’s owner. The owner did not operate the facility, so the owner subcontracted its responsibilities (with ICE’s approval) to a private operator, real party in interest Management & Training Corporation (Operator). Petitioner Anna Von Herrmann served the Operator with a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request regarding the Facility. Operator refused to comply, reasoning it was not subject to the CPRA because it did not have a contract directly with the City, and, thus, the Facility was not one that “detains a noncitizen pursuant to a contract with a city.” Alternatively, Operator contended several CPRA exemptions applied. Petitioner sought a writ of mandate from the trial court compelling Operator to comply with the CPRA request, but the court agreed with Operator’s interpretation of California Civil Code section 1670.9(c) and denied the petition without reaching Operator’s CPRA exemption claims. The Court of Appeal agreed the trial court construed section 1670.9(c) too narrowly as applying the CPRA only to an entity that contracts directly with a city to detain noncitizens. "[T]he structure of section 1670.9 as a whole, indicate the Legislature intended for the CPRA to apply to immigration detention facilities on a facility-wide basis rather than an entity-specific basis." The Court issued a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its order denying the petition and to enter a new order granting it, subject to resolution of Operator’s CPRA exemption claims. View "Von Herrmann v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Abdelsalam came to the U.S. in 2017 on a fiance visa. His fiance, Mona, discovered that Abdelsalam had other relationships and was planning to divorce her as soon as he gained citizenship and reported him to immigration authorities. Abdelsalam subsequently physically injured and threatened Mona and burglarized her house. He pled guilty to making criminal threats. The trial court orally told him that, as a result of the conviction, he would be deported. He was also advised in writing that he would be deported. His attorney reviewed the immigration consequences of the plea with Abdelsalam, who orally acknowledged that he understood those consequences, and stated that he would “wait for immigration.”After deportation proceedings were initiated, Abdelsalam claimed he never understood that he would be deported and should be allowed to withdraw his plea. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the motion to withdraw the plea, finding it unsupported by the record. A defendant cannot be told repeatedly that his plea will result in deportation, confirm he understood, present no contrary evidence from the attorney who advised him, and then withdraw the plea with the claim that he did not understand he would be deported. View "People v. Abdelsalam" on Justia Law

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Scarlett was born in Honduras in 2013. Her family moved to the United States in 2015. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services received a referral claiming that her father, Franklin, had attacked her mother, Karen. The Department filed a Welfare and Institutions Code 300(a), (b)(1) petition. The court found true the allegations that, because of multiple instances of domestic violence, and because Franklin had hit Scarlett with a belt, Franklin placed Scarlett at risk of serious physical harm and Karen failed to protect her.Scarlett subsequently filed a request for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) findings under Code of Civil Procedure 155.1. A child is eligible for SIJ status if: the child is a dependent of a juvenile court, in the custody of a state agency by court order, or in the custody of an individual or entity appointed by the court; the child cannot reunify with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis; and it is not in the child’s best interest to return to his or her home country or the home country of her parents. The juvenile court denied the request, ruling the findings were “discretionary.” The court of appeal reversed. The lower court was required to consider the evidence submitted and Scarlett submitted unimpeached and uncontradicted evidence that required the court to enter an order with the findings Scarlett requested under section 155. View "In re Scarlett V." on Justia Law

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On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19. On March 16, the Legislature enacted an emergency amendment to the Budget Act, appropriating $500 million, and authorizing additional disbursements for any purpose related to the state of emergency upon order of the Director of Finance, with notice to the Legislature, but without requiring statutory approval of each individual project. On April 15, Governor Newsom announced a $75 million Disaster Relief Fund to “support undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19 who are ineligible for unemployment insurance and disaster relief, including the CARES Act, due to their immigration status.” Approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians would receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household to deal with specific needs arising from the pandemic.On April 29, the plaintiffs filed suit challenging the Project as an unlawful expenditure of public funds (Code Civ. Proc. 526a.), reasoning that federal law provides that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for state public benefits, with exceptions, 8 U.S.C. 1621(a), including the enactment of a state law after the date of the enactment of the federal act. Plaintiffs alleged that the Project was not enacted by a state law and sought a temporary restraining order. The court of appeal dismissed, as moot, an appeal from the denial of a TRO. The spending has already occurred; there is no indication it will be reauthorized. View "Cerletti v. Newsom" on Justia Law