Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
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The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's dismissal of a 2018 indictment charging defendant with illegal reentry in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1326. The court agreed with the government's contention that the district court erred in sustaining defendant's collateral attack on his underlying 2013 deportation order and dismissing the 2018 illegal-reentry indictment. In this case, the district court found that the IJ and the BIA erroneously classified bail jumping as an aggravated felony and the error led the IJ not to consider defendant's claims for asylum and withholding of removal. The court disagreed with the district court for two reasons: first, the district court diluted the actual prejudice standard; and second, applying the correct actual-prejudice standard, the record foreclosed any notion that defendant likely would have escaped deportation either through asylum or withholding of removal. The court saw nothing in the record indicating that defendant was likely eligible for asylum or withholding of removal. Therefore, even assuming the IJ and BIA erred in classifying defendant's bail jumping conviction as an aggravated felony, defendant still could not show actual prejudice under section 1326(d). View "United States v. Ramirez-Cortinas" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the denial of petitioner and her son's requests for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). As a preliminary matter, the court held that the notices petitioner and her son received satisfied the relevant regulations and the IJ had jurisdiction over her case. The court held that the evidence did not compel a finding in petitioner's favor on either her asylum or withholding of removal requests. Assuming validity of her membership in a particular social group and her political belief in the rule of law, the court held that substantial evidence supported the IJ's finding that petitioner failed to show a connection between them and any persecution she has faced or will face. Furthermore, substantial evidence supported the IJ's denial of protection under the CAT, because petitioner failed to show that it was more likely than not that she would be tortured if she returned to Honduras, and failed to point to evidence establishing that Honduran authorities would acquiesce to the torture of her and her son. View "Martinez-Lopez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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After petitioner was ordered removed by DHS because he violated the terms of his admission under the Visa Waiver Program, he filed a motion to reopen. An ICE Deputy Field Officer Director denied petitioner's motion and petitioner appealed. The Fifth Circuit dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction because it called for judicial review of a denial of a motion that petitioner was not entitled to file. The court held that, as a Visa Waiver Program participant, petitioner was limited to contesting his removal on the basis of an application for asylum and he has conceded that he was not seeking asylum. Therefore, the statute on its face barred petitioner from challenging his deprivation of a hearing by means of a motion to reopen. Furthermore, petitioner's reliance on the carve-out in 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(5) was unavailing. View "Lavery v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit held that petitioner's prior Texas conviction for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver was a violation of a state law "relating to a controlled substance" as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, the court held that petitioner failed to show that the BIA erred in finding that his Texas drug delivery conviction rendered him removable. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's discretionary decision to deny cancellation of removal. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding of removability and discretionary denial of petitioner's application for cancellation of removal. View "Padilla v. Bar" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the the BIA's decision denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration after she was denied asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's finding that petitioner failed to show that she was harmed on account of her membership in a particular social group—i.e., that her ex-boyfriend harmed her for being a Honduran woman unable to leave her relationship. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the IJ's finding that the Honduran police did not and would not acquiesce to petitioner's alleged torture by her ex-boyfriend. In regard to the motion for reconsideration, the court held that it had jurisdiction to entertain petitioner's argument concerning Matter of A-B-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018), which held that married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship did not constitute a particular social group and clarifying other points of law pertaining to asylum and withholding of removal claims. The court also held that the Grace injunction did not affect the court's ability to review A-B-, nor could it, because it did not bind courts in this circuit; the BIA correctly interpreted A-B-; A-B- was not arbitrary and capricious; and remand to the IJ was not warranted. View "Gonzales-Veliz v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Upon sua sponte rehearing, the Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. The court granted the petition for review and held that petitioner failed to exhaust his challenge to the immigration court’s jurisdiction based on alleged defects in his Notice to Appear. The court also held that the Oklahoma misdemeanor of transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle is not one of the firearms offenses listed under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C). Therefore, the court concluded that this conviction did not disqualify petitioner from seeking cancellation of removal. Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Flores-Abarca v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint, seeking a declaration of citizenship under 8 U.S.C. 1503(a). The court held that the district court did not clearly err in denying jurisdiction over the section 1503(a) claim in light of the deficient record developed by plaintiff and the court's deferential standard of review. The court also held that section 1503(a) was an adequate alternative remedy for plaintiff's injury, and that the district court was therefore correct that it lacked jurisdiction over his claim under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Flores v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the denial of his application for asylum and withholding of removal. The Fifth Circuit held, in light of Matter of L-E-A-, -- which stands for the proposition that families may qualify as social groups, but the decision must be reached on a case-by-case basis -- that the BIA failed to rely on the factual findings of the IJ, which were likely impacted by the incorrect legal posture through which the IJ viewed the case. Considering the error, and in order that the IJ and the BIA may have the benefit of the increased clarity provided by Matter of L-E-A-, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Pena Oseguera v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision holding petitioner statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal based on a prior 2004 firearm transportation conviction. The court held that petitioner failed to exhaust his challenge to the immigration court's jurisdiction based on alleged defects in his Notice to Appear. However, on the merits, the court held that the Oklahoma misdemeanor of transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle is not one of the firearms offenses listed under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C). Therefore, petitioner's conviction did not disqualify him from seeking cancellation of removal. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Flores-Abarca v. Barr" on Justia Law

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After the district court dismissed defendant's indictment for illegal reentry following removal because an IJ in the underlying removal lacked jurisdiction, the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion in an analogous immigration appeal, Pierre-Paul v. Barr, ---F.3d---, 2019 WL 3229150 (5th Cir. July 18, 2019), that foreclosed defendant's arguments that were adopted by the district court. Determining that the case was not moot, the court held that the district court erred in concluding that the lack of a date and time on petitioner's 2003 notice to appear deprived the IJ of jurisdiction in the 2003 removal proceeding. Under Pierre-Paul's three alternative holdings, the district court's ruling was untenable, and thus the IJ did not lack jurisdiction as a result of the government's failure to include a date and time on the notice to appear. The court also held that the district court should have denied the motion to dismiss the indictment because 8 U.S.C. 1326(d) barred petitioner's collateral attack on the validity of his removal order. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Pedroza-Rocha" on Justia Law