Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
by
The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review challenging petitioner's order of removal after he threatened to commit a religiously motivated act of terrorism. Petitioner, who suffers from schizophrenia, was reported by his brother after petitioner made threats of killing kuffars (non-believers).The court concluded that the Attorney General interpreted 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(2)(A)(iv) correctly as a matter of law. The Attorney General first determined that the plain meaning of "reasonable grounds" comports with the well-established standard for "probable cause." The Attorney General then determined that "a danger to the security of the United States" means "[a]ny level of danger to national security . . . ; it need not be a 'serious,' 'significant,' or 'grave' danger." Therefore, petitioner is ineligible for asylum under section 1158(b)(2)(A)(iv). The court also held that the BIA's determination that petitioner was a threat to national security was supported by substantial evidence as a matter of fact. View "Mirza v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the IJ's determination that defendant was subject to removal from the United States because he had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. The IJ determined that the plea agreement signed by petitioner, his defense counsel, and the prosecutor was clear and convincing evidence of a criminal conviction because it contained an indication of guilt and the sentence imposed. Applying a deferential standard of review, the court concluded that petitioner failed to show that the IJ or BIA violated a statutorily imposed evidentiary requirement by finding that the plea agreement at issue proved the existence of a forgery conviction by clear and convincing evidence. Therefore, it is not, as a matter of law, deficient or inadmissible. View "Vu Quang Nguyen v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of appellant's amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Appellant challenged the denial of his passport applications and sought a declaration of U.S. citizenship under 8 U.S.C. 1503(a). Appellant also brought a statutory claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and a constitutional claim under the Fifth Amendment. Appellant conceded in district court that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider his first two claims (his section 1503(a) claim and his statutory APA claim), leaving only his constitutional claim, which the district court concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider.The court held that Congress intended section 1503(a) to be the exclusive remedy for a person within the United States to seek a declaration of U.S. nationality following an agency or department's denial of a privilege or right of citizenship upon the ground that the person is not a U.S. national. Therefore, the "any other statute" proviso of section 702 maintains the United States' sovereign immunity against petitioner's constitutional claim because the statute of limitations contained in section 1503(a) has run and thus expressly forbids the relief sought. View "Cambranis v. Blinken" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner, a legal permanent resident, was twice charged as removable by the federal government, once in 2012 and once in 2016. Petitioner challenged the second removability charge as barred by res judicata. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the BIA's determination that res judicata did not bar the second removability charge because it was based on a different statutory provision and was unavailable to the Government when the first charge was brought. Petitioner also argued that the Government failed to meet 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii)'s statutory requirements and that the BIA denied him due process of law. The court concluded that these two issues have not been addressed by the BIA in the first instance and thus they are not ripe for disposition. Accordingly, the court dismissed in part and denied the petition in part. View "Rodriguez v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration. Petitioner primarily argues that the Board did not adequately consider two declarations indicating that his counsel did not receive certain documents related to the proceedings. The court concluded that these declarations do not sufficiently rebut the presumption that his counsel received the documents the Board sent. Therefore, petitioner's argument that the Board should have reconsidered its decision in light of the declarations fails. Furthermore, petitioner's remaining arguments, which all stem from the alleged nonreceipt of documents and his alleged inability to file a responsive brief, also fail. View "Njilefac v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the IJ's conclusion that one of petitioner's three convictions rendered petitioner removeable. At issue is petitioner's 2018 conviction for knowingly possessing a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 2-A, in violation of Texas Health & Safety Code 481.1161(a). In this case petitioner possessed MMB-Fubinaca, which, he agrees, is a federally controlled substance. However, Penalty Group 2-A also includes at least one substance that is not federally controlled.The court concluded that petitioner's 2018 conviction did not render him removeable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i). The court explained that the government failed to show that Penalty Group 2-A is divisible. Applying the categorical approach, the court concluded that Penalty Group 2-A is broader than the federal statute, and "there is no categorical match" between Penalty Group 2-A and its federal counterpart. Here, the parties agree that Penalty Group 2-A criminalizes possession of at least one substance—naphthoylindane—that the federal statute does not mention. The panel declined to terminate petitioner's removal proceedings. Instead, the court remanded for consideration of whether petitioner has shown a realistic probability that Texas would prosecute conduct that falls outside the relevant federal statute. The panel also remanded for consideration of whether petitioner's 2009 and 2013 convictions render him removable, in the event that petitioner succeeds on the realistic-probability inquiry. View "Alejos-Perez v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
There is no conflict between the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Bail Reform Act (BRA) that prevents DHS from civilly detaining a criminal defendant after she has been granted pretrial release pursuant to the BRA.As a preliminary matter, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court's December order is appealable under the BRA, 18 U.S.C. 3145 and 3731. The court explained that the September release order released defendant from criminal detention under the BRA and, considered by itself, the court would lack jurisdiction over the September release order because it was issued by a magistrate judge and not a district court. However, the December order was the district court's affirmation of the September release order in response to defendant's motion to clarify her release status.On the merits, the court concluded that the district court correctly rejected the applicability of 8 U.S.C. 1226(e) and 1252(g) in its December order, explaining it was "not attempting to review or set aside any decision or action to commence removal proceedings" but was instead "attempting to enforce the Magistrate Judge's [September release] Order." The court considered decisions by six other circuits that have addressed the issue and concluded that pretrial release under the BRA does not preclude pre-removal detention under the INA. The court explained that, fundamentally, the BRA and INA concern separate grants of Executive authority and govern independent criminal and civil proceedings. The court concluded that the remaining claims lacked merit and vacated the district court's December order precluding ICE from detaining defendant pending completion of her criminal proceedings. View "United States v. Baltazar-Sebastian" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging USCIS's denial of their application to adjust their immigration status to lawful permanent residents under the diversity visa program. The district court dismissed the case with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and dismissed the case, holding that the case was moot prior to the entry of the district court's final judgment. The court joined its sister circuits in concluding that a claim challenging the denial of a diversity visa status adjustment application becomes moot after the relevant fiscal year expires. In this case, plaintiffs' claim was moot at the time they filed their initial complaint. View "Ermuraki v. Renaud" on Justia Law

by
An alien who entered the United States without being "inspected and admitted or paroled" may not have his status adjusted to lawful permanent resident by virtue of obtaining Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Petitioner, a native of Honduras, challenged the USCIS's denial of his application to obtain lawful-permanent-resident status in district court. The government moved to dismiss, but the district court denied the motion and remanded to the agency. The government appealed.The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the district court incorrectly interpreted and applied the relevant immigration statutes. The court held that the text of the relevant statutory provisions confirms that TPS does not cure the bar to status adjustment in 8 U.S.C. 1255. The court rejected petitioner's and amici's contention that because a TPS recipient is considered as "being in, and maintaining, lawful status as a nonimmigrant," section 1255(a)'s requirement that an alien be inspected and admitted is satisfied. The court concluded that this contention failed because granting TPS does not constitute an admission under section 1255(a); granting TPS does not constitute a waiver of the admission requirement in section 1255; and being "admissible" under section 1254a does not create an alternative method for satisfying the requirement that one be admitted under section 1255. In this case, the court concluded that TPS does not excuse petitioner from the requirement of being inspected and admitted into the United States. The court explained that, because petitioner was never lawfully admitted, he cannot now seek to adjust his status under section 1255(a). View "Rodriguez Solorzano v. Mayorkas" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Tanzania, petitions for review of an order issued by the BIA dismissing his appeal from the IJ's decision denying his application for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner separately seeks review of the BIA's order denying his motion to reopen and denying his request for review of that motion by a three-member panel.The Fifth Circuit denied in part the petitions for review and concluded that it did not have jurisdiction to review factual challenges to the removal order; substantial evidence supports the conclusion of the IJ and BIA that petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof for CAT relief; and the BIA did not abuse its discretion in finding that petitioner did not present newly discovered evidence to corroborate his claim for CAT relief. The court dismissed the petition for review of the unexhausted claims, and dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the petition for review of the BIA's non-referral of petitioner's motion to a three-member panel. View "Tibakweitira v. Wilkinson" on Justia Law