Justia Immigration Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Garcia v. Holder, Jr.
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, petitioned for review of the BIA's order denying his application for cancellation of removal on the ground that he failed to meet the continuous physical presence requirement of 8 U.S.C. 1229b. The BIA has held that, pursuant to In re Romalez-Alcaide, an alien's continuous physical presence terminated when he voluntarily departed the United States under threat of removal. The court concluded that, in light of the fact that section 1229b was silent as to whether an alien's voluntary departure under threat of removal terminated his continuous physical presence in the country, the BIA's interpretation of the statute was reasonable. The court concluded that petitioner failed to meet his burden of proving that he was eligible for relief and denied the petition for review. View "Garcia v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law
Santos v. Frederick County Board
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the Board, the County Sheriff, and two deputy sheriffs, alleging that the deputies violated her Fourth Amendment rights when, after questioning her at her workplace, they arrested her on an outstanding civil warrant for removal issued by ICE. The court concluded that the deputies did not seize plaintiff until one of the two deputies gestured for her to remain seated while they verified that the immigration warrant was active; the civil immigration warrant did not provide the deputies with a basis to arrest or even briefly detain plaintiff; the individual defendants were immune from suit because at the time of the encounter neither the Supreme Court nor the court had clearly established that local and state law enforcement officers could not detain or arrest an individual based on a civil immigration warrant; and qualified immunity did not extend to municipal defendants. Therefore, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Santos v. Frederick County Board" on Justia Law
United States v. State of South Carolina
In this pre-enforcement challenge to a package of immigration laws known as Act 69, the district court preliminarily enjoined certain sections of the Act on preemption grounds. On the merits, the court concluded that the district court was correct to enjoin Sections 4(A) and (C) because they criminalized actions that Congress has, as a policy choice, decided were a civil matter. The court also concluded that Sections 4(B) and (D) created an obstacle to the smooth functioning of federal immigration law, improperly placed in the hands of state officials the nation's immigration policy, and stripped federal officials of the authority and discretion necessary in managing foreign affairs. Accordingly, the court concluded that these sections, along with Sections 5 and 6(B)(2), were all preempted by federal law and, therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction. View "United States v. State of South Carolina" on Justia Law
United States v. Medina
Defendant, a citizen of El Salvador, pled guilty to possession of a concealed dangerous weapon and possession of marijuana in 2004, in violation of Maryland law. In 2008, defendant was found guilty of driving without a valid license. Two years later, defendant pled guilty to assault in the second degree and was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after sentencing. In 2011, defendant pled guilty to unlawful reentry after removal. The parties disputed whether defendant's 2004 probation-before-judgment disposition triggered a four-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. 2L1.2(b)(1)(D). The court held that diversionary dispositions arising from guilty pleas - including defendant's probation before judgment disposition at issue here - constituted predicate convictions under section 2L1.2(b)(1)(D). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Medina" on Justia Law
Karimi v. Holder, Jr.
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Afghanistan, petitioned for review of the BIA's final order of removal, contending that the BIA erred when it ruled that his Maryland second-degree assault conviction was for a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. 16, and thus an "aggravated felony" under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(F) that triggered his removability. The court concluded that the Attorney General failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that petitioner's assault conviction necessarily rested on facts identifying his second-degree assault offense as a type of assault that qualified as a crime of violence. Consequently, the Attorney General had not met his burden of proving petitioner's removability as an aggravated felon. Therefore, the court granted the petition for review, vacated the BIA's order of removal, and remanded to the BIA with instructions to reinstate petitioner's asylee status. View "Karimi v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law
Suarez-Valenzuela v. Holder, Jr.
Petitioner, a citizen of Peru, petitioned for review of the BIA's reversal of the IJ's grant of his application for withholding of removal. Petitioner contended that the BIA applied the wrong standard when evaluating whether government officials would acquiesce to his torture and that its conclusions were not supported by substantial evidence. The court concluded that the BIA's decision conformed to the willful blindness standard and the court need not remand the case to allow the BIA to correct its analysis. In light of petitioner's waiver of his relocation argument and the court's determination that the State Department's country report and the circumstances of petitioner's past torture supported the BIA's findings, the court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's conclusion that it was not more likely than not that the government would acquiesce to petitioner's torture upon his return to Peru. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Suarez-Valenzuela v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law
United States v. Medina-Campo
Defendant pleaded guilty to illegal entry after deportation and was sentenced to fifty months in prison. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's calculation of his prison term. The court concluded that the district court committed no legal error by its interpretation of U.S.S.G. 2L1.2. Instead the district court properly calculated the advisory Guidelines range by enhancing defendant's offense level, pursuant to section 2L1.2(b)(1)(A), in that he had been convicted of a drug trafficking felony in Oregon. Therefore, the sentence imposed was reasonable and the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Medina-Campo" on Justia Law
Mondragon v. Holder, Jr.
Petitioner, a citizen of El Salvador, sought discretionary relief from his removal under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), Pub. L. No. 105-100, 111, Stat. 2160, 2198. The BIA found petitioner ineligible for relief because he was unable to demonstrate that his 1996 Virginia conviction for assault and battery was not a crime of violence. The court concluded that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996's, 8 U.S.C. 321(c), retroactive application of the revised definition of "aggravated felony" survived petitioner's constitutional challenges. The court also held that the government had demonstrated that petitioner's removability and petitioner had failed to demonstrate that he was eligible for discretionary relief from removal, as afforded by NACARA. Accordingly, the court denied his petitions for review. View "Mondragon v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law
Patel v. Napolitano
Plaintiff, a permanent resident alien and federal inmate, appealed the dismissal of his action under 8 U.S.C. 1503(a) for a judgment declaring him a United States national. Petitioner has resided in the United States since the age of eleven and has been a permanent resident for almost twenty-five years. Petitioner alleged that he was a United States national because he applied for citizenship, registered for the Selective Service, and declared his permanent allegiance to various United States officials. The court held that these facts failed to allege United States nationality under section 1503(a) and affirmed the dismissal of his action. Petitioner could not state a claim to be a United States national under United States v. Morin because the court must defer to the BIA's contrary, post-Morin interpretation of section 1101(a)(22). View "Patel v. Napolitano" on Justia Law
United States v. Carpio-Leon
Defendant, a citizen of Mexico, was indicted for possessing firearms while being illegally or unlawfully in the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charge, contending that section 922(g)(5) violated his rights under the Second and Fifth Amendments. The district court denied the motion, holding that section 922(g)(5) was constitutional. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that the scope of the Second Amendment did not extend to provide protection to illegal aliens, because illegal aliens were not law-abiding members of the political community and aliens who have entered the United States unlawfully have no more rights under the Second Amendment than do aliens outside of the United States seeking admittance. On defendant's Fifth Amendment challenge, the court concluded that prohibiting aliens, as a class, from possessing firearms was rationally related to Congress' legitimate interest in public safety. View "United States v. Carpio-Leon" on Justia Law