Articles Posted in U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Sanchez, a citizen of El Salvador, entered the U.S. without inspection in 1989. Sanchez is now 47, married to a lawful permanent resident, and has four children, all U.S. citizens. Sanchez sought asylum and withholding of removal and applied for special rule cancellation of removal under the Nicaraguan Adjustment & Central American Relief Act (NACARA), 111 Stat. 2160, 2644 and under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b), based on exceptional hardship to his children. While removal proceedings were pending, the government submitted evidence that Sanchez was not eligible for NACARA relief because he had assisted in the persecution of others while serving in the El Salvador military. Sanchez asked for a continuance. At Sanchez’s next hearing, in August 2009, Sanchez stated that he had been arrested in 2008 for leaving the scene of an accident where serious bodily injury occurred. The government argued that Sanchez’s conduct constituted a crime involving moral turpitude under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i). Sanchez submitted a docket sheet showing that he was charged with a Class D felony, although the court entered the conviction as a misdemeanor and imposed a sentence of 365 days in jail with 363 days suspended. Sanchez claimed that, because of weather conditions, he thought that he had merely hit “a post or a small object” and only learned that he had hit a person when police arrived at his residence the next day. The IJ ordered removal; the BIA dismissed an appeal. The Seventh Circuit remanded, stating that the Board did not properly conduct the three-step inquiry prescribed in Matter of Silva-Trevino. View "Sanchez v. Holder" on Justia Law

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Estrada, a Mexican citizen, entered the U.S. in 1996, at age 20, and has not left; he is married and has five children, all U.S. citizens. He was denied cancellation of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b), for failure to demonstrate “good moral character.” He had several traffic citations, including for driving in an “aggravated manner” after his license had been revoked; driving without a valid license, driving three times under the influence of alcohol, twice lacking required proof of financial responsibility; running a traffic light; disregarding a stop sign; failing to fasten his seat belt, and other violations. During removal proceedings, he was arrested and charged with eight traffic offenses, four of which involved “aggravated” driving under the influence. Despite continuances, those charges had not been resolved when the immigration judge ruled. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The Seventh Circuit denied review. The Board had enough evidence to make the latest criminal proceeding immaterial. The court characterized a defense argument as “a contention that as long as his client goes on violating the traffic laws, he can’t be removed—for even though his record gets worse and worse, there will always be some pending charges that the immigration judge must wait to see resolved before deciding whether to order him removed. “ View "Ortiz-Estrada v. Holder" on Justia Law

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Halim, a citizen of Indonesia, came to the U.S in 2000. After his visa expired, he stayed without applying for legal residency. In 2005, DHS detained Halim and initiated removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(B). Halim sought asylum, withholding of removal under section 241(b)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and protection under the Convention Against Torture, claiming that if he was forced to return to Indonesia, he would be subject to persecution because of his Chinese ethnicity and Christian beliefs. The State Department 2010 Human Rights Report for Indonesia indicated that its government officially promoted racial and ethnic tolerance, but laws and regulations still had discriminatory effects on ethnic Chinese; its Religious Freedom Report documented religious abuses between 2008 and 2010. Internet articles detailed religious attacks on Christians and continued discrimination against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. Halim’s father and four of his siblings still lived and owned businesses in Indonesia. The IJ ordered deportation, finding the asylum application untimely as filed more than one year after his arrival. The evidence did not demonstrate: that Halim had personally suffered past persecution or would face a clear probability of future persecution if returned to Indonesia or that a pattern or practice of persecution against Chinese Christians as a group existed in Indonesia. The BIA dismissed an appeal. The Seventh Circuit rejected a petition for review. View "Halim v. Holder" on Justia Law

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Castro, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without inspection when he was 14 years old. He was convicted of 11 offenses while he was in the U.S. between 1979 and 2001, six times for drug trafficking-related offenses. He was convicted twice of illegal entry. Castro was removed in 1980, 1981, 1984, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1997 and 1998. He reentered illegally after his last removal and has used 23 identities in encounters with law enforcement. In 2013, he was found as part of a Fugitive Operations program that uses public records to locate illegal aliens. He pleaded guilty to illegal reentry, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a). A probation officer assigned a base offense level of 8 and a 16-level enhancement under Guideline 2L1.2(b)(1)(A), because Castro had been convicted of a drug trafficking offense for which the sentence imposed exceeded 13 months’ imprisonment. He had 13 criminal history points, placing him in category VI. His advisory sentencing range was 77–96 months’ imprisonment. Castro argued that his criminal history occurred many years ago and that he had rehabilitated himself, as demonstrated by his family circumstances and work history. The court imposed a 77-month sentence. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the district court erred by not expressly addressing his “fast-track disparity” argument at sentencing and that his sentence was substantively unreasonable in light of his proffered mitigation factors. View "United States v. Castro-Alvarado" on Justia Law

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Georgieva and her husband Dimitrov, Bulgarian citizens, were admitted to the U.S. in 2002 under the visa waiver program and timely requested asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Because of continuances, they did not appear before an immigration judge until 2011. Georgieva described bullying she experienced as a Roma child; not being admitted to college because she was Roma; being tricked by her employer and “forced to have sex with a strange man who paid for her like she was meat;” having the police refuse to act; becoming involved Euroroma, which advocates for Roma rights in Europe; receiving threats from associates of her former boss; being abducted outside the Euroroma office and beaten; and being denied medical attention. Dimitrov testified that Georgieva suffered from pain and headaches as a result of the beating. Both testified that they fear persecution if returned to Bulgaria; their families have left that country. They have American-born sons, aged six and 10. The older son has been diagnosed with autism. The immigration judge noted many discrepancies in the testimony, found that there was not enough corroborating documentary evidence, and ordered the couple removed to Bulgaria. The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. View "Georgieva v. Holder" on Justia Law

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Haldar, an Indian citizen, came to the U.S. in 1999 and has been a permanent resident since 2006. He founded GVS-Milwaukee, a Hare Krishna religious society and, from 2004 to 2007, GVS sponsored 25 applicants for religious-worker “R-1 visas,” 8 C.F.R. 214.2(r)(1), 17 of which were approved. In 2007 the State Department advised the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that GVS-Milwaukee might be involved in visa fraud. DHS also received a similar anonymous tip and began an investigation that included temple visits, surveillance, searches of Haldar’s luggage on international trips, and interviews with GVS-sponsored visa recipients. In 2010 Haldar was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. under 18 U.S.C. 371. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments (not raised in the district court) that certain statements from the prosecutor and a government witness improperly called into question the validity of his temple and were unfairly prejudicial under Federal Rule of Evidence 403; the prosecutor misrepresented testimony during his closing argument and relied on facts outside the record; and the district court on its own initiative should have instructed the jury not to scrutinize the religious qualifications of the visa recipients. View "United States v. Haldar" on Justia Law

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Saldana entered the U.S. at age 7, became a lawful permanent resident at 20, but was charged with removability at 34, in 2003, for committing an aggravated felony, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii), and a controlled-substance offense. He argued that mere possession of cocaine was not a drug-trafficking crime, and thus not an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(B) that would render him ineligible for discretionary relief. The IJ denied his application for cancellation of removal. Saldana did not appeal and was removed to Mexico. The agency precedent on which the IJ relied was overturned three years later by the Supreme Court. By then Saldana had reentered illegally and was again convicted of possessing cocaine. After his 2011 release Saldana was charged with illegal presence in the U.S. after removal, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a), (b)(1), but sought dismissal based on deficiencies in the underlying removal order. The district court denied the motion, finding that he had failed to exhaust administrative remedies; that his lawyer never promised to appeal; that Saldana did not take advantage of remedies available at the time (habeas corpus) and did not justify these failures other than asserting lack of legal knowledge; and that he could not show that removal was fundamentally unfair because he had no due-process right to apply for discretionary relief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Despite being informed of his rightsl, he did not file an appeal or ask his lawyer to do so, nor did he exhaust available remedies by a motion to reopen. View "United States v. Alegeria-Saldana" on Justia Law

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The petitioner uses two names (Tarsem Singh and Simranjit Singh) and has used different birth certificate translations, listing birthdates that differ by as much as four years. He has passports showing both identities and has claimed three different dates of entry. In 1997, Singh was detained by INS. Singh asserts that he then spoke very little English and did not understand the agents. Charging documents indicate that he had counsel, but he claims that that and other information on the documents was incorrect. After his release, Singh’s father created a new identity for him. INS mailed notice of his immigration hearing to his employer’s address, but there is no evidence that Singh ever received it. Singh was ordered deported in absentia. In 2010, the immigration court granted Singh’s motion to reopen. Singh argued that, contrary to the I‐213, he was only 15 in 1997 so that his detention violated INS regulations and his due process rights and that he had been inspected and admitted into the U.S., so that he was eligible for adjustment of status, 8 U.S.C. 1255(a). The IJ ruled that Singh was removable. The BIA agreed, reasoning that even if Singh was 15 when he was detained, he was properly served with notice. INS regulations do not require service in the respondent’s native language, and personal service is effective for minors over age 14. The Seventh Circuit denied review. His claims hinged on establishing that he really was Tarsem and was 15 years old in 1997, which he could not do. Singh also could not establish that he was inspected and admitted when he entered this country. View "Singh v. Holder" on Justia Law

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Cabrera entered the U.S. without inspection in 2001. After a 2009 arrest, he applied for withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1231 saying that he feared return to Mexico because of threats and mistreatment by his wife, who holds local office. Cabrera stated that he feared his wife would use political influence to have people cause him harm, including torture at the hands of Mexican law enforcement. He asserted membership in a particular social group: “individuals who face persecution by corrupt governmental and law enforcement authorities instigated by a politically connected spouse” and applied for protection under the Convention Against Torture. The immigration judge found his testimony credible but denied his applications, finding that Cabrera had not proposed a valid social group because he did not identify a shared characteristic aside from persecution and had not shown that he would be harmed based on his membership in that group. The judge concluded that his wife had “a personal vendetta” and that Cabrera could not show a likelihood of torture because he had not been injured and had not shown that his wife ever followed through on her threats. The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit denied review. A “particular social group” must be linked by something more than persecution. Substantial evidence supports a conclusion that his wife tried to hurt Cabrera out of personal animosity. View "Ruiz-Cabrera v. Holder" on Justia Law

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Jyotsnaben Patel was admitted to the U.S. in 1992 as a nonimmigrant visitor; her husband, Pravin, entered illegally six months later. They applied for asylum and were charged with removability: Jyotsnaben because she had overstayed her visa, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(B), and Pravin under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(I). An immigration judge found them not credible, denied the applications, and granted voluntary departure. The Patels failed to comply, which rendered them inadmissible for 10 years, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(9)(A). With no brief on file, the BIA dismissed an appeal in 2004 and ordered them to leave within 30 days. Still in the U.S. seven years later, they sought to stay removal for humanitarian reasons. ICE granted their application permitting them to remain for one year. Instead of seeking to adjust status, the Patels moved to reopen the removal proceedings in May 2013, so that they could seek government consent to have the proceedings administratively closed. After that, the Patels believed, they could seek a provisional waiver of inadmissibility on the basis of their citizen-daughter, then travel abroad to apply for a visa to return legally. DHS opposed and the BIA denied the motion, as filed after the 90-day period for motions to reopen. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. View "Patel v. Holder" on Justia Law