Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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The Fifth Circuit dismissed in part and denied in part a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the IJ's denial of his application for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3). The court held that it did not have jurisdiction over petitioner's challenges to the IJ's determination that his mistreatment was not torture under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and petitioner's request to remand to the BIA so that the BIA could consider a derivative asylum claim based on his wife's recent grant of asylum. Therefore, the court dismissed as to these claims. The court agreed with the IJ's finding that petitioner had not proven that he was harmed because of his political opinion or one imputed to him. Furthermore, to the extent petitioner's claimed social group was family members of Roma, the record was devoid of evidence that the persecution suffered by his wife was directed at him. Accordingly, the court denied the petition in all other respects. View "Revencu v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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After defendant pleaded guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. 1425(a), which prohibits knowingly procuring citizenship contrary to law, the district court revoked his citizenship as part of his sentence. While defendant's appeal was pending the Supreme Court issued Maslenjak v. United States, 582 U.S. —, 137 S. Ct. 1918 (2017), in which it (1) clarified the Government's burden of proof in a Section 1425(a) prosecution and (2) held that qualification for citizenship, notwithstanding any materially false statement, is a complete defense to prosecution. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment, holding that, even post-Maslenjak, the indictment and factual resume provided a sufficient factual basis for defendant's plea and for all statutory elements of Section 1425(a), the offense of conviction. In the alternative, even if the court assumed that the district court's acceptance of the plea was plain error, defendant failed to show that the error affected his substantial rights. View "United States v. Nepal" on Justia Law

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Sanchez-Arvizu pleaded guilty to illegal reentry, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a) and (b)(2). Applying the 2015 Sentencing Guidelines, the probation officer assessed a 16-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii), finding that Sanchez-Arvizu was deported after a conviction for a “crime of violence,” his Texas conviction for indecency with a child by sexual contact, and calculating an advisory Guidelines range of 41-51 months of imprisonment. Under the November 2016 Guidelines, Sanchez-Arvizu’s sentencing range would be 15-21 months. The probation officer arrived at a range of 1-7 months under those Guidelines. The district court stated that “a sentence of 51 months would be entirely appropriate,” but sentenced Sanchez-Arvizu at the low end of the Guidelines range because this was his first conviction for illegal reentry. The court stated that it had considered all of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and sentenced Sanchez-Arvizu to 42 months in prison. The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded because, while this appeal was pending, the Supreme Court held that for "statutory rape offenses focused solely on the age of the participants, the generic federal definition of ‘sexual abuse of a minor’ . . . requires the age of the victim to be less than 16.” The statute under which Sanchez-Arvizu was convicted is categorically broader than the generic federal definition, so the court erred by deeming Sanchez-Arvizu’s conviction a crime of violence under Guidelines section 2L1.2. View "United States v. Sanchez-Arvizu" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision determining petitioner's conviction of online solicitation of a minor was an aggravated felony that subjected him to removal. The court held that Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, 137 S. Ct. 1562 (2017), abrogated the court's previous definition of a minor in this context. Esquivel-Quintana established an age requirement that rendered petitioner's statute of conviction overbroad and did not qualify as sexual abuse of a minor for purposes of removability. Therefore, the court reversed the decision of the BIA and remanded for further proceedings. View "Shroff v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in an action arising from a property insurance policy that Lexington issued to LWL to insure construction equipment that LWL leased from Sierra. The court held that the equitable lien doctrine did not apply to Sierra, who was not a party to the insurance policy, and Sierra did not have standing to sue Lexington. In this case, the agreement between Sierra and LWL did not require that LWL obtain insurance with a loss payable clause to Sierra, and the Lexington policy did not contain such a clause. View "Sierra Equipment, Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion in order to eliminate reference to United States v. Gonzalez-Longoria, 831 F.3d 670 (5th Cir. 2016) (en banc), given that decision's abrogation by the Supreme Court in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018). The court upheld Senate Bill 4 (SB4), a Texas law that forbids "sanctuary city" policies throughout the state, and held that SB4's provisions, with one exception, did not violate the Constitution. The court held that none of SB4's provisions conflict with federal law where the assistance-cooperation, the status-inquiry, and the information-sharing provisions were not conflict preempted. The court affirmed the district court's injunction against enforcement of Section 752.053(a)(1) only as it prohibits elected officials from "endors[ing] a policy under which the entity or department prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws." The court held that plaintiffs failed to establish that every seizure authorized by the ICE-detainer mandate violated the Fourth Amendment; the "materially limits" phrase had a clear core and was not void for vagueness; and plaintiffs' "commandeering" argument failed. Accordingly, the court vacated in large part the district court's preliminary injunction and remanded with instructions to dismiss the vacated provisions. View "City of El Cenizo v. Texas" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied in part and granted in part a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of an appeal of the IJ's denial of relief. The court held that the BIA erred in requiring petitioner to prove past persecution to establish a claim based on a well-founded fear of future persecution and in recharacterizing petitioner's claimed social group as those who might defy gangs, rather than as female activists or human rights defenders from Honduras who actively protest the Maras. The court affirmed in all other respects, remanding for further proceedings. View "Cabrera v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against the Government for false arrest and false imprisonment under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Plaintiff claimed that she was falsely arrested and imprisoned by Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers because the officers detained her after she presented them with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which in her view conclusively showed entitlement to remain in the United States. The court held that the discretionary function exception to the FTCA applied in this case where the officers enforced a removal order. The court reasoned that, what plaintiff insisted was certain from the EAD and removed all discretion was, in reality, sufficiently uncertain as to leave discretion in the hands of the officers. Furthermore, reading the discretionary function exception in conjunction with the law enforcement proviso, the court held that the district court was correct in holding that there was no subject matter jurisdiction. However, the district court did err in dismissing the FTCA claims with prejudice. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded so that the district court may enter a revised order and final judgment that dismisses the suit without prejudice. View "Campos v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for panel rehearing and withdrew its prior opinion, substituting the following opinion. Petitioner appealed the BIA's decision that he was eligible for deportation pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i) for possessing a controlled substance in violation of Oklahoma law. This circuit has held that the realistic probability test applies whenever the categorical approach is employed. See United States v. Castillo-Rivera, 853 F.3d 218 (5th Cir. 2017) (en banc), cert. denied, No. 17-5054, 2017 WL 2855255 (Dec. 4, 2017). The court held that, given that the state statute is facially broader than its federal analog, Castillo-Rivera suggests that petitioner could prevail only if the realistic probability test was satisfied. However, petitioner failed to address the question in his brief on appeal, and thus waived the only argument available to him in the wake of Castillo-Rivera. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Rodriguez Vazquez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit upheld Senate Bill 4 (SB4), a Texas law that forbids "sanctuary city" policies throughout the state, and held that SB4's provisions, with one exception, did not violate the Constitution. The court held that none of SB4's provisions conflict with federal law where the assistance-cooperation, the status-inquiry, and the information-sharing provisions were not conflict preempted. The court affirmed the district court's injunction against enforcement of Section 752.053(a)(1) only as it prohibits elected officials from "endors[ing] a policy under which the entity or department prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws." The court held that plaintiffs failed to establish that every seizure authorized by the ICE-detainer mandate violated the Fourth Amendment; the "materially limits" phrase had a clear core and was not void for vagueness; and plaintiffs' "commandeering" argument failed. Accordingly, the court vacated in large part the district court's preliminary injunction and remanded with instructions to dismiss the vacated provisions. View "City of El Cenizo v. Texas" on Justia Law