Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
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Five foreign nationals who each contributed $500,000 to Mirror Lake, a new commercial enterprise set to construct and operate a senior living facility, sought to obtain lawful permanent resident status under the EB-5 immigrant-investor program. The USCIS denied the EB-5 visa petitions on the stated ground that none had made a qualifying investment.The DC Circuit held that USCIS's denial of the EB-5 immigrant-investor visa petitions were arbitrary and capricious because the agency failed to offer a reasoned explanation for its denials. In this case, plaintiffs put their capital at risk because the redemption of their investments is dependent on the success of the business. Therefore, USCIS's decision to deny the visas on the purported ground that the investments are not at risk at all is neither reasonably explained nor supported by agency precedent. The court reversed and remanded with instructions to set aside the denials of the EB-5 petitions. View "Mirror Lake Village, LLC v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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Asylum seekers filed suit challenging executive-branch policies adopted to implement the expedited-removal provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Asylum seekers principally argue that the policies raise the bar for demonstrating a credible fear of persecution far above what Congress intended and that the Attorney General and various agencies violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to adequately address important factors bearing on the policies' adoption. The district court found that the policies are inconsistent with the IIRIRA and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), enjoining their enforcement.After addressing jurisdictional issues, the DC Circuit held that the condoned-or-completely-helpless standard is arbitrary and capricious; the new choice-of-law policy is arbitrary and capricious due to USCIS's failure to acknowledge and explain its departure from past practice; when viewed as a whole, the Guidance accurately restates the circularity rule as described in Matter of A-B-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 316, 321 (2018); the record in this case does not support the asylum seekers' argument that USCIS and the Attorney General have erected a rule against asylum claims involving allegations of domestic and/or gang violence; and neither 8 U.S.C. 1252(f)(1) nor 1252(e)(1) prohibited the district court from issuing an injunction.Therefore, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment with respect to the circularity rule and the statements regarding domestic- and gang-violence claims, vacated the injunction insofar as it pertains to those issues, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Grace v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Associations filed suit contending that the Secretary's decision to expand the reach of the expedited removal process to its statutory limit, sweeping in all individuals without documentation who have resided in the United States for less than two years, violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the Suspension Clause. The district court granted a preliminary injunction against the expansion based only on the APA claims, but did not address the INA and constitutional claims.The DC Circuit held that the district court properly exercised jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. 1252(e) over the Associations' case. However, because Congress committed the judgment whether to expand expedited removal to the Secretary's "sole and unreviewable discretion," 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1)(A)(iii)(I), the Secretary's decision is not subject to review under the APA's standards for agency decisionmaking. Furthermore, the Secretary's decision is not subject to the APA's notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings. View "Make The Road New York v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs won the 2017 diversity visa lottery but were denied visas pursuant to the State Department's Guidance Memo. The Guidance Memo instructed consular officers reviewing diversity visa applications about how President Trump's Executive Order temporarily prohibiting nationals of specific countries from entering the United States (EO2) affected visa eligibility. In this case, plaintiffs were denied visas because they were from Iran and Yemen—countries subject to the entry ban—and could not qualify for exemptions or waivers or satisfy the bona fide relationship requirement in Trump v. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP I), 137 S. Ct. 2080, 2088 (2017). After EO-2 expired, it was replaced by President Trump's third iteration of the travel ban, the Proclamation. After the Supreme Court explained that challenges to the expired EO-2 were moot, and the government then filed a motion to dismiss this case as moot.The DC Circuit reversed the district court's determination that this case was moot, and held that plaintiffs' claims -- seeking a court order instructing the government to stop implementing the Guidance Memo, process their visa applications, and issue them diversity visas -- were not moot because whether the district court retains the authority to award plaintiffs relief is a merits question. The court held that neither plaintiffs' claim that such relief was legally available nor their claim that they were entitled to that relief was so implausible as to deprive the district court of jurisdiction. Furthermore, there was some chance that this relief would be effective at securing their immigration to the United States. View "Almaqrami v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success in connection with their claim that ORR's restriction on abortion access infringes their protected right to choose to terminate their pregnancies. In 2017, the government instituted a policy effectively barring any unaccompanied alien child in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) from obtaining a pre-viability abortion. The district court granted a preliminary injunction and the government appealed.Agreeing that the case was not moot, the DC Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying a class consisting of pregnant unaccompanied minors in the government's custody. On the merits, the court held that, under binding Supreme Court precedent, a person has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy before fetal viability, and the government cannot unduly burden her decision. Consequently, these controlling principles dictate affirming the district court's preliminary injunction against the government's blanket denial of access to abortion for unaccompanied minors.The court vacated in part and remanded to the extent that the preliminary injunction barred disclosure to parents and others of unaccompanied minors' pregnancies and abortion decisions. The court held that this portion of the preliminary injunction warranted further explication to aid appellate review. View "J.D. v. Azar" on Justia Law

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After ICE changed how it calculated overtime pay for certain employees, the union filed a grievance, alleging that ICE changed the policy without first bargaining. The DC Circuit agreed with the Authority's determination that ICE had no duty to bargain with the union before changing its overtime policy because ICE's previous policy was unlawful. In this case, ICE's previous policy of excluding leave time was unlawful under a straightforward reading of the 1997 Guidance and the 2002 amendments to the regulations. View "American Federation of Government Employees National Council v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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The United States appealed the district court's decision that it was unnecessary to detain defendant in order to ensure his presence at a criminal trial and that releasing him pre-trial meant that ICE could not civilly detain him in order to remove him from the country. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's decision declining to detain defendant pending trial and held that the district judge did not clearly err in finding that defendant was not a flight risk. However, the court reversed the district court's decision prohibiting ICE from civilly detaining him pending removal and held that there was no constitutional conflict where the Department of Homeland Security's detention of a criminal defendant alien for the purpose of removal did not infringe on the judiciary's role in criminal proceedings. View "United States v. Vasquez-Benitez" on Justia Law

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The Project and four individual herders challenged the agencies' 364-day certification period for H-2A visas, which allowed nonimmigrants to enter the country to perform certain agricultural work. The DC Circuit held that the Project's complaint adequately raised a challenge to the Department of Homeland Security's practice of automatically extending "temporary" H-2A petitions for multiple years; the Project adequately preserved its challenge to the Department of Labor's decision in the 2015 Rule to classify herding as "temporary" employment; the 2015 Rule's minimum wage rate for herders was not arbitrary, capricious, or unsupported by the record; and the Project lacked standing to challenge the wage rates set by the already-vacated 2011 Guidance Letter. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hispanic Affairs Project v. Acosta" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for USCIS in an action filed by plaintiff, under the Administrative Procedure Act, to renounce his United States citizenship. USCIS denied plaintiff's renunciation request, claiming that he lacked the "intention" necessary to relinquish his citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Determining that plaintiff's claim was ripe for review, the court held that the Tritten Letter's interpretation of "intention" in 8 U.S.C. 1481 did not warrant Chevron deference. Absent Chevron deference, the court held that USCIS's interpretation was in tension with the statute's structure; USCIS's interpretation rested on a faulty premise that plaintiff did not intend to relinquish his citizenship because one's mere physical presence in the United States did not require exercising a right of citizenship; and USCIS purported to adopt the State Department's interpretation of the intention requirement, but it misconstrued the State Department's approach. Therefore, the Tritten Letter's interpretation of "intention" was impermissible. View "Kaufman v. Nielsen" on Justia Law

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Washtech, a union representing workers throughout the country in the STEM labor market, challenged DHS's regulations allowing nonimmigrant aliens temporarily admitted to the country as students to remain in the country for up to three years after finishing a STEM degree to pursue work related to their degree. The DC Circuit held that Washtech had standing to bring challenges to the 2016 Rule under the doctrine of competitor standing; affirmed the dismissal of Washtech's challenge to the 1992 Rule as time-barred; reversed the dismissal of Washtech's challenge in Count II (challenging DHS's statutory authority) because the district court abused its discretion in dismissing a plausible claim of relief based on Washtech's inadequate opposition to DHS's motion to dismiss; remanded as to Count II; and affirmed the district court's dismissal of Counts III (alleging procedural deficiencies) and IV (alleging rule was arbitrary and capricious) under Federal Rule of Civil procedure 12(b)(6) because neither stated a plausible claim for relief. View "Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. DHS" on Justia Law