Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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The Anoka County Jail referred every detainee born outside the United States, including Plaintiff, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The district court determined that this policy violates the Equal Protection Clause, and a jury awarded her $30,000 on a false-imprisonment theory.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the district court’s conclusion was correct: Anoka County’s policy is a classic example of national-origin discrimination. On its face, it treats people differently depending on where they were born. Those born abroad must wait anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours longer while deputies consult ICE. For those born in the United States, by contrast, there is no call and release is immediate. The court explained that it is also significant that Anoka County had national-origin-neutral alternatives at its disposal. The failure to consider these alternatives provides further evidence that it did not adopt a narrowly tailored policy. View "Myriam Parada v. Anoka County" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, applied for cancellation of removal pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(b)(1). He has three children, who were 19, 10, and 5 years old at the time of the merits hearing in April 2017. The immigration judge denied Petitioner’s application. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) dismissed his appeal, and Petitioner timely petitioned for review of the BIA’s decision.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Petitioner failed to provide authority allowing the court to direct the BIA to implement a new analytical standard for exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. To the extent Petitioner claims the BIA misapplied the applicable hardship standard—a question of law which the court may review—his claim is without merit. Further, the court wrote that the BIA’s discretionary conclusion that the hardship to the children is not substantially beyond that typically caused by an alien’s removal “is precisely the discretionary determination that Congress shielded from our review.” View "Hector Gonzalez-Rivas v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Department of Homeland Security commenced removal proceedings after Petitioner, a citizen of Cameroon, entered the United States on November 30, 2019, in Laredo, Texas. Petitioner conceded removability, but sought asylum, withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT"). Following a hearing, the Immigration Judge (IJ) denied her application, finding that she failed to establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution.The Eighth Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, electing not to reverse the BIA’s ruling that Petitioner's credible but weak testimony supporting her asylum claim was not adequately corroborated. Petitioner failed to present corroborating medical records and her testimony, while credible, appeared memorized. Any questions outside the scope of her seemingly-prepared testimony caused Petitioner to stumble, giving the impression that there was more to the story. View "Carine Adongafac v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner moved for the BIA to reopen his cancellation of removal proceedings so he could present new evidence of alleged “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to his United States citizen children. The BIA denied his motion, finding he failed to demonstrate prima facie eligibility for relief as to the good moral character and hardship requirements.   The Eighth Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review. The court explained that the material question on the issue of hardship in a motion to reopen is whether the new evidence, if proven, would show an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to Petitioner’s United States citizen children. Further, the court explained that a petitioner must demonstrate prima facie eligibility for relief as to all required elements to have their file reopened. Here, the court found no abuse of the BIA’s substantial discretion in the alternative ruling that Petitioner failed to rebut the Castillo-Perez presumption. The final DUI occurred approximately one month after an initial and informal exercise of discretion in Petitioner’s favor: the administrative closure his file in 2016. To overcome this presumption, a petitioner must show “substantial relevant and credible contrary evidence” to demonstrate “that the multiple convictions were an aberration.” Driving under the influence one month after the suspension of his initial removal proceedings does not suggest the unusual showing described in Castillo-Perez. View "Jose Llanas-Trejo v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioners natives and citizens of El Salvador, petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) denial of Petitioners’ motion to reconsider the BIA’s prior order, which upheld the immigration judge’s (IJ) decision finding the Petitioners removable and denying their applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT)   The Eighth Circuit denied the petition. The court explained that here, in denying Petitioners’ motion to reconsider, the BIA reaffirmed its previous finding that Petitioners have not persuasively shown any error of law or fact in our prior decision to establish that the Salvadoran government would be unable or unwilling to control the individuals they fear. In their petition for review, Petitioners do not meaningfully argue that the BIA erred in reaching this conclusion and have accordingly waived any challenge to such a finding. Thus, Petitioners cannot show that they suffered persecution and their claims for relief necessarily fail. View "Fatima Coreas-Chavez 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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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 believes that the statute criminalizing reentry into this country after removal violates his equal-protection rights. See 8 U.S.C. Section 1326(a), (b). He did not raise this issue before the district court. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling and denied the pending motion for judicial notice.   The court explained that even constitutional arguments can be forfeited. Forfeiture occurs when a party has an argument available but fails to assert it in time. The court wrote that failure to raise an equal-protection challenge before the district court is a classic example of forfeiture. During the six months before he pleaded guilty, Defendant filed more than a dozen motions raising all sorts of issues, but not one of them questioned the constitutionality of the illegal-reentry statute or mentioned equal protection. Had he done so, the district court would have had an opportunity to potentially correct or avoid the alleged] mistake in the first place.   The court explained that under these circumstances, Defendant’s constitutional argument receives, at most, plain-error review. Here, to succeed, Defendant’ had to show, among other things, that there was a clear or obvious error under current law. In this case, there is one district court case on his side, see Carillo-Lopez, 555 F. Supp. 3d at 1001, but at most it shows that the issue is subject to reasonable dispute. The court explained that picking one side of a reasonable dispute cannot be clearly or obviously wrong. View "United States v. Salvador Nunez-Hernandez" on Justia Law

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denied Petitioner’s Form N-400, Application for Naturalization because it determined that Petitioner was no longer a lawful permanent resident following the denial of his Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Petitioner sought de novo review of the denial of his N-400 pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Section 1421(c), requesting that the district court direct USCIS to grant his N-400. The district court dismissed Petitioner’s petition without prejudice, finding that it lacked authority to direct USCIS to grant his N-400 and, alternatively, that his petition failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court did not err in finding that Section 1429 does not limit its jurisdiction to review Petitioner’s Section 1421(c) claim, nor does it limit the court’s jurisdiction over this appeal. The court further wrote that it joins its sister circuits in holding that the pendency of removal proceedings prevents a district court from directing the Attorney General to naturalize an alien due to the limits imposed on the Attorney General’s authority to consider applications for naturalization by Section 1429. Thus because Section 1429 precludes the district court from granting effective relief in this case, the court found that Petitioner’s Section 1421(c) petition is moot.Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not commit a manifest error in stating that Petitioner could reassert a petition for review should removal proceedings be terminated in his favor and did not abuse its discretion in denying his Rule 59(e) motion. View "Hafils Akpovi v. David Douglas" on Justia Law