Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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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

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the government defendants' motion for summary judgment, upholding the denial of plaintiff's Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of her husband. USCIS denied the petition because it concluded that the husband's first marriage was fraudulently entered for the purpose of evading immigration laws.The court concluded that the denial of the I-130 petition was neither arbitrary, capricious nor an abuse of discretion where the record before the agency was lengthy and extensive. In this case, there is direct evidence of fraud where a previous spouse admitted that her marriage to the husband was a sham and plaintiff's claims to the contrary are unavailing. The court discerned no clear error of judgment in the BIA's final determination that there was substantial and probative evidence of marriage fraud. View "Iyawe v. Garland" on Justia Law

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When Menjivar was 10 years old, her family started attending an evangelical church in El Salvador. Menjivar became a youth leader. Menjivar, her sister, and other youth group members preached to young people. One of their missions was to help people leave gangs. Their pastor received a letter warning him to protect the youth group. Menjivar left El Salvador, fearing reprisals from the gang. When she was 17 years old, she entered the U.S., seeking asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture.Menjivar compiled documentary evidence, including affidavits from her sister and pastor, and country condition reports. The IJ received her evidence late, took about 45 minutes to review it, and denied her application, finding that she failed to establish a well-founded fear of future persecution and failed to show that she was ever personally harmed or threatened. The BIA affirmed, finding no due process violation. The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review. The IJ reviewed and considered the evidence; his decision discusses the very evidence Menjivar claims was overlooked. In addition, Menjivar failed to show prejudice. The affidavits from her sister and her pastor do not support a particularized fear of future harm to her but only mention general threats against church members. View "Menjivar v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's refusal to sua sponte reopen immigration proceedings because the decision is purely discretionary. The court also concluded that equitable tolling, even if petitioner raised the issue, does not fall into the narrow exception allowing the court to consider colorable constitutional claims. View "Salcido Mar v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Gallegos, a citizen of Mexico, gained Lawful Permanent Resident status through her marriage to a U.S. citizen. After Gallegos petitioned to dissolve the marriage, DHS concluded that the marriage was fraudulent. DHS filed a Notice to Appear, charging Gallegos as removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(A) as an alien who was inadmissible at the time she adjusted her LPR status because she procured admission through fraud (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(C)(i)); under section 1227(a)(1)(A) because she did not possess valid immigration documents when she sought readmission as an LPR (1182(a)(7)(A)(i)(I)); and under 1227(a)(1)(G)(ii) for failing or refusing to fulfill a marital agreement which was made for the purpose of procuring admission as an immigrant.The immigration court later mailed an amended Notice, informing Gallegos her hearing was rescheduled. Gallegos failed to appear at the rescheduled hearing. The IJ ordered Gallegos removed in absentia. Gallegos argued that exceptional circumstances prevented her from attending the hearing. Gallegos admitted to receiving the amended Notice but explained that she misplaced it and incorrectly remembered the hearing date because of mental health issues, claiming she was treated for depression and anxiety and was involuntarily hospitalized. The BIA affirmed the denial of relief, finding that Gallegos did “not show that her mental condition was causally related to her failure to appear.” The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review, finding no exceptional circumstances justifying Gallegos’s failure to appear. View "Gallegos v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Chol, a citizen of South Sudan, was born in a refugee camp in Uganda. At age five, he was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Twelve years later, he was convicted of two counts of robbery and sentenced to seven-15 years. Charged with removability, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony, Chol applied for asylum and withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Chol appeared pro se. The IJ explained that he was ineligible for asylum due to his criminal record, but alerted him that he would be eligible for CAT relief if he could prove that it is more likely than not that he would be tortured by the government (or with its acquiescence) in South Sudan and Uganda.After testimony from Chol, his mother, and a prison official, the IJ determined he was not entitled to CAT relief and ordered removal, finding that it is not more likely than not that Chol would be tortured in South Sudan because he is a member of the governing Dinka tribe, and not a politician, journalist, or humanitarian worker. The BIA dismissed his appeal. The Eighth Circuit denied Choi’s petition for review, rejecting arguments that the IJ erred by failing to fully develop the record about Choi’s tribal faction, provide the State Department’s country reports for South Sudan and Uganda, and tell Choi the definition of “torture” under the CAT. View "Chol v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review of an order of the BIA upholding the denial of his motion to reopen proceedings and to rescind an order of removal entered in absentia. The court concluded that the agency reasonably concluded that petitioner's explanations left "too many questions" unanswered, and that he failed to overcome the presumption that mail sent to his address in Lincoln was delivered and received. Therefore, the agency did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to reopen proceedings and to rescind the removal order entered in petitioner's absence. View "Hesso v. Garland" on Justia Law

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He, a 28-year-old native of China, entered the U.S. in 2012 without inspection. He applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture, claiming past persecution and well-founded fear of future persecution and torture in China because of his Christian faith. An Immigration Judge denied relief. The IJ found his testimony credible but noted that He did not know the denomination of the faith that was practiced during the two gatherings he attended and had never heard of anyone getting in trouble for attending a Christian government-authorized church. The IJ found that the evidence of the harm He described during two detentions, including an assault by police, does not rise to the level of persecution contemplated by the” Act. He failed to demonstrate a well-founded fear of future persecution, presenting no evidence that "anyone associated with the Chinese government is looking for him, or that he would be harmed or persecuted . . . if he practices his Christian religion in China.”The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review. Substantial evidence supported the finding that HE failed to establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of his religious beliefs. He failed to establish eligibility for asylum and necessarily cannot meet the more rigorous standard for proof of withholding of removal. View "He v. Garland" on Justia Law