Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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An Immigration Judge (IJ) denied Petitioner's adjustment of status and waiver of inadmissibility, finding that his extensive criminal history since arriving in the United States made him a “violent and dangerous” individual and that his Minnesota domestic assault conviction was an aggravated felony “crime of violence.” 8 U.S.C. Sections 1159(a), (c), 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). The IJ further ruled that this conviction made Petitioner statutorily ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal. 8 U.S.C. Sections 1158(b)(2)(A)(ii), 1231(b)(3)(B)(ii). On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upheld these rulings.   The BIA ordered Petitioner removed to South Sudan. Petitioner petitioned for judicial review of the BIA’s decision, limiting the petition to the denial of CAT relief. The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review. The court concluded that the BIA adequately explained why it rejected the IJ’s likelihood-of-torture finding and identified reasons grounded in the record sufficient to support this clear error determination. The BIA explained why the IJ’s findings failed to establish Petitioner was at personal risk of being tortured in South Sudan.   Petitioner argued the BIA failed to consider the risk of torture in the aggregate, instead focusing on isolated and incomplete portions of the evidence. However, the court wrote that the BIA expressly stated that the IJ’s ultimate finding of the likelihood of torture “is not supported by the record.” Although it did not individually address all evidence in the record or every IJ finding, its opinion demonstrates that it considered the record as a whole and “accounted for all of the asserted risks in concluding that the immigration judge clearly erred.” View "Chuor Chuor v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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An immigration judge (IJ) concluded that Gutierrez-Vargas was not eligible for asylum or withholding of removal because his conviction for dismembering a human body constituted a particularly serious crime. The IJ further concluded that he was not eligible for deferral of removal because he failed to demonstrate that it was more likely than not that he would be tortured if returned to Mexico. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed that decision.   Petitioner petitioned for review of the BIA denial of his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and deferral of removal. He argued that the conduct underlying his conviction did not constitute a “particularly serious crime” and that the IJ abused his discretion in determining that Petitioner did not qualify for deferral of removal under CAT. The court concluded that the IJ and the BIA applied the correct legal framework in determining that Petitioner’s conviction constituted a particularly serious crime. The IJ noted the elements of the offense, Petitioner’s role in dismembering and concealing the victim’s body, his “lengthy prison sentence,” and the state courts’ characterization of Petitioner’s actions.   Further, the court explained that although an applicant’s credible testimony “may be sufficient to sustain the burden of proof without corroboration,” 8 C.F.R. Section 1208.16(c)(2) (emphasis added), the IJ found that Petitioner’s testimony, even taken as true, did not satisfy that burden. Thus, Petitioner has failed to demonstrate any abuse of discretion in that ruling. View "Salvador Gutierrez-Vargas v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner entered the United States on an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa on Dec. 29, 2009. Subsequently, she falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen to gain employment, and the Department of Homeland Security served Petitioner with a Notice to Appear, charging her with being removable under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1227(a)(1)(C)(i) (providing for the removal of an alien admitted as a nonimmigrant who has failed to maintain that nonimmigrant status or to comply with the conditions of that status) and Sec. 1227(a)(3)(D)(i) (providing for the removal of an alien who has falsely represented herself to be a United States citizen for any benefits such as employment). Petitioner proceeded pro see, explicitly waiving her right to counsel and denying the district court's offer of a continuance to secure counsel. Eventually, Petitioner obtained counsel.The Immigration Judge denied relief, and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Petitioner's request for remand after she cited a change in circumstances.The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The Immigration Judge did not deny Petitioner her right to Due Process as the Immigration Judge did not commit a "fundamental procedural error" regarding the appointment of counsel. Additionally, the Immigration Judge did not violate Petitioner's Due Process when it refused to remand based on changed circumstances. View "Flora Holmes v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was ordered removed to China after he was convicted of aiding and abetting marriage fraud in order to evade immigration laws and procure his admission to the United States, see 8 U.S.C. Sections 1227(a)(1)(G)(ii), 1325(c), and an immigration judge (IJ) denied his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).   The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) concluded Petitioner’s motion was untimely and numerically barred, and he was not excused from these bars because he failed to show a material change in country conditions. The BIA also concluded Petitioner failed to show prima facie eligibility for relief. Finally, it declined to exercise its discretion to grant reopening sua sponte.   The Eighth Circuit denied the petition and vacated Petitioner’s stay of removal. The court concluded that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying Petitioner’s motion to reopen based on his failure to demonstrate prima facie eligibility for relief. Although Petitioner argued he was not attempting to reassert or relitigate his prior claim, he specifically included the alleged 2005 detention in both his new application and personal statement, and he continued to assert entitlement to relief based on underground Christian churches. The IJ therefore rationally concluded Petitioner’s new claim lacked factual independence. Further, Petitioner proffered no evidence—new or otherwise—to corroborate the alleged 2005 detention, interrogation, and beating. View "Caimin Li v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was ordered removed and sought relief under the Convention Against Torture. Petitioner claimed he had a well-founded fear of persecution based on his membership in two social groups, his father’s immediate family and “young Guatemalan men who refuse to cooperate with gang members.” The Immigration Judge denied Petitioner relief and the Board of Immigration Appeals.The Eighth Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for relief. Petitioner's main claim was that the group his father belonged to which subjected him to likely persecution was not a "cognizable social group" at the time the Immigration Judge and Board of Immigration Appeals issued their opinions. However, subsequently, the group gained recognition.The Eighth Circuit determined that, notwithstanding any issues related to the group's recognition, Petitioner's application failed because he failed to establish a nexus between the persecution he allegedly suffered and either of his proposed social groups. Additionally, substantial evidence supports the determination that TojinPetitioner did not suffer past persecution. View "Diego Tojin-Tiu v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner a citizen of Somalia, petitions for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The BIA’s order reversed the decision of the immigration judge (IJ) granting Petitioner’s application for deferral of removal to Somalia under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Eighth Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review in part, granted the petition in part, and remanded it to the BIA for further proceedings.   Petitioner challenged the BIA’s reversal of the IJ’s grant of deferral of removal under CAT, asserting that the BIA failed to provide sufficient justification for its determination. The court held that it will not disturb the BIA’s findings as to the unlikelihood of Petitioner’s institutionalization because the BIA identified reasons grounded in the record sufficient to satisfy a reasonable mind.   Next, Petitioner challenged the BIA’s conclusion that the IJ clearly erred in finding that Petitioner would more likely than not be tortured as an IDP forcibly evicted from an IDP camp. The court found that the BIA gave sufficient justification for its determination that Petitioner failed to show that he would more likely than not be forcibly evicted from an IDP camp.   Finally, the court held that further proceedings are required for the BIA to address in the first instance the IJ’s findings regarding Petitioner’s likely treatment in an IDP camp and what part of the IDP camp experience would constitute torture. The court found that the BIA erred by resolving DHS’s appeal without addressing the IJ’s findings regarding treatment in IDP camps. View "Musla Salat v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner’s husband is a former police officer who joined the auto-defense group to fight local drug cartels in Mexico. Possibly due to his involvement in the group, Petitioner’s husband went missing. Petitioner and her family were threatened by a rival group and eventually moved to Kansas.Petitioner sought admission into the United States in 2016. The Department of Homeland Security determined Petitioner was inadmissible and began removal proceedings. Petitioner acknowledged she was inadmissible, but applied for asylum, humanitarian asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. The immigration judge denied relief and the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BOA”) affirmed.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding Petitioner’s testimony credible but insufficient to establish she suffered from “past persecution” or was likely to suffer from future persecution. Petitioner was never physically harmed in Mexico and any threats against her were isolated. Further, there was no effort to carry out any of the threats. View "Guadalupe Barrera Arreguin v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, three brothers who are Bolivian citizens, came to the United States on temporary visas in 2015. Petitioners claim they fled Bolivia because investors in their business, many of whom were retired military and government officials, were unhappy with the lack of returns and threatened Petitioners. Petitioners also faced fraud charges in Bolivia. Based on these charges, Interpol issued Red Notices seeking Petitioners’ arrest.Upon the expiration of their temporary visas, Petitioners sought asylum in the United States. The immigration judge denied Petitioners’ claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and Protection under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Pertaining to Petitioner’s CAT claims, the immigration judge found that Petitioners had not shown it was more likely than not they would be tortured if returned to Bolivia. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.The Eighth Circuit denied relief. The immigration judge’s adverse credibility determinations were supported by the record and thus, entitled to deference. Additionally, Petitioners’ evidence suggesting they would be tortured if returned to Bolivia was based on “abusive or squalid conditions in pretrial detention facilities or prisons that result from a lack of resources rather than a specific intent to cause severe pain or suffering.” These conditions, the court held, failed to rise to the level of torture. View "Victor Paredes Gonzales v. Merrick B. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the denial of his application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court rejected petitioner's contention that the Board erred by declining to address the IJ's adverse credibility finding where the court agreed with the Board that the IJ's decision includes an alternative determination that petitioner's claim would fail even if his testimony were believed. The court also concluded that the Board adequately addressed petitioner's arguments on administrative appeal and that the IJ's decision is sufficient to allow for meaningful judicial review. Because petitioner's procedural objections are without merit, the petition for review is denied. View "Jama v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied petitions for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's application for cancellation of removal. The court concluded that, while the BIA's decision is no model of clarity and is disappointingly conclusory, it recited the appropriate standards of review. The court had no reason to conclude that the BIA did not follow these standards and reviewed the IJ's findings of fact for clear error and ultimate legal determination of good moral character de novo. Finally, petitioner's contention that the BIA failed to provide a reasoned basis for denying his motion to remand is belied by the record. View "Dominguez Hernandez v. Garland" on Justia Law