Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction after he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of identification documents and was sentenced to time served in prison. Defendant alleged that defense counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to adequately warn him about the immigration consequences of his guilty plea. The court held that the record was sufficient to determine that the ineffective assistance claim was without merit where defense counsel and the district court complied with Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 374 (2010). Furthermore, defendant already knew from his ICE custody and prior dealings with immigration officials that deportation was likely. View "United States v. Ramirez-Jimenez" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal of the IJ's denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court applied the deferential evidence standard and held that the harm petitioner suffered at the hands of a local politician was not severe enough to constitute past persecution. Furthermore, petitioner failed to establish a well-founded fear of future persecution where he could relocate to another part of Ecuador. View "Molina-Cabrera v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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DHS detained Ramirez, a citizen of Guatemala, in 2014, after she illegally entered the U.S. Ramirez stated she feared a neighbor would kill her if she returned to Guatemala because he frequently asked her to have sex, and she refused; she reported this neighbor to the police after he attempted to rape another woman, but the police did not arrest him. Ramirez said this neighbor sent men to confront her at knifepoint, demanding money and threatening to kill her. Ramirez submitted her asylum application (completed with the help of an attorney) and represented herself pro se. The IJ denied the application, stating Ramirez feared a “personal and a potential criminal act,” not “persecution” or “torture” necessary for securing asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture relief. The written decision concluded that Ramirez failed to demonstrate either past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The decision repeatedly, erroneously, referred to Mexico and its caption charged Ramirez under the wrong statutory section. The BIA found “harmless error.” Ramirez argued the IJ’s hearing conduct violated procedural due process, failing to provide individualized consideration. The Eighth Circuit denied relief. The IJ gave Ramirez declined repeated opportunities to expound on her claim; on appeal, Ramirez failed to explain the evidence she might have offered had the IJ asked further questions. The BIA's order disavowed any errors and exercised the requisite independent judgment supported by substantial evidence. View "Ramirez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed a petition for review challenging the denial of her application for asylum as untimely. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's determination that petitioner did not establish an excuse for her late filing based on changed circumstances. In this case, the IJ was making a case-specific materiality determination, not announcing a per se rule. Neither the IJ nor the BIA engaged in an analysis of the statute or otherwise elaborated on the meaning of "changed circumstances," which foreclosed the possibility that this case presented a question of statutory interpretation for the court to review. View "Burka v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioner's request for asylum, withholding of removal, and application for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) based on his claim that he faced danger in his home country of Ghana. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction to determine the timeliness of petitioner's asylum application; the evidence petitioner submitted to support his request to remand based on changed country conditions was immaterial and did not support a remand based on changed country conditions; and petitioner's claim of humanitarian asylum was foreclosed because he failed to raise this issue to the agency. The court also held that petitioner failed to demonstrate a likelihood of future persecution or torture. In this case, petitioner's evidence would not compel all reasonable factfinders to conclude that his life or freedom would be endangered by a return to Ghana. Therefore, the court denied his petition for review of the denial of withholding of removal. Likewise, petitioner's claim for relief under the CAT also failed. View "Degbe v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's order dismissing petitioner's administrative appeal of the IJ's denial of her motion to reopen removal proceedings and rescind her in absentia removal order. The court held that the BIA abused its discretion because it did not address whether petitioner's inability to get proper medical attention constituted exceptional circumstances sufficient to excuse her failure to attend her asylum hearing. Therefore, the court remanded for the agency to determine in the first instance whether petitioner's motion to reopen warranted a favorable exercise of the BIA's discretion. View "Payeras v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Petitioner and her children petitioned for review of the BIA's order denying their applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that there was no legal error as to petitioner's petition and that substantial evidence supported the Board's decision that her proposed social group (targeted gang girlfriends or witnesses who report crimes to the police) lacked particularity and was not cognizable. Furthermore, the record did not support a conclusion that a family relationship was a central reason for petitioner's persecution, and she failed to meet her burden of proof on her CAT claim. Therefore, the court denied her petition for review. In regard to the children's petition, the court held that the record showed they presented independent applications, but the Board failed to decide the applications separately from their mother's. Therefore, the court granted their petitions for review and remanded their cases for further consideration. View "Pena De Rivas v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the IJ's denial of petitioner's applications for asylum and withholding of removal. The court held that the IJ and BIA applied the correct legal standard in requiring petitioner to show his social group or political opinion was the predominant reason for the persecution. The court held that petitioner's asylum claim failed because the evidence did not compel a finding that petitioner was persecuted on account of his social group or political opinion. Likewise, petitioner's application for withholding of removal also failed. In this case, a reasonable factfinder could conclude that gangs were targeting petitioner for general recruitment purposes and his relationship to his father, a former policeman, was merely "incidental or tangential" to that goal. View "Gomez-Rivera v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's application for adjustment of status under the Violence Against Women Act. The court held that substantial evidence supported the IJ's finding that petitioner, a Canadian citizen, knew she was ineligible to vote in the 2004 election and did so anyway. Furthermore, petitioner failed to show clearly and beyond doubt that she was entitled to an entrapment-by-estoppel defense. View "Chernosky v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted a petition for review of the Board's decision vacating the IJ's order of withholding of removal, and denial of relief, ordering petitioner removed to Mexico. The court was unable to tell from the Board's rather opaque opinion whether the agency followed its regulations and applied the correct standard of review. Therefore, the court remanded to the Board for further proceedings in which it may clarify its decision or apply the correct standard of review as appropriate. View "Garcia-Mata v. Sessions" on Justia Law