Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
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8 U.S.C. Section 1226(a) permits the Attorney General to detain aliens pending their removal hearings. Under those procedures, an alien is given notice and three opportunities to seek release by showing they are neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.   A district court determined that a class of aliens had a likelihood of establishing that those procedures violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. That court then issued a preliminary injunction ordering, on a class-wide basis, that to continue detaining an alien under Section 1226(a), the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that an alien is either a flight risk or a danger to the community. The district court also required immigration judges to consider an alien’s ability to pay any bond imposed and consider alternatives to detention.   The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court’s preliminary injunction order and held that under Section 1252(f)(1), the district court lacked jurisdiction to issue class-wide injunctive relief that enjoined or restrained the process used to conduct Section 1226(a) bond hearings. Further, the detention procedures adopted for Section 1226(a) bond hearings provide sufficient process to satisfy constitutional requirements. The court concluded for that reason-the aliens are unable to establish a likelihood of success on their due process claims. Nor have they shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in their favor or that an injunction is in the public interest. View "Marvin Miranda v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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8 U.S.C. Section 1226(a) permits the Attorney General to detain aliens pending their removal hearings. The Attorney General has adopted procedures for making that discretionary decision. Under those procedures, an alien is given notice and three opportunities to seek release by showing they are neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community. A district court determined that a class of aliens had a likelihood of establishing that those procedures violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. That court then issued a preliminary injunction ordering that to continue detaining an alien under 1226(a), the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that an alien is either a flight risk or a danger to the community. The district court also required immigration judges to consider an alien’s ability to pay any bond imposed and consider alternatives to detention.   The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court’s preliminary injunction order and held that under 8 U.S.C. Section 1252(f)(1), the district court lacked jurisdiction to issue class-wide injunctive relief that enjoined or restrained the process used to conduct Section 1226(a) bond hearings. Further, the court held that as for the individual relief issued by the district court, the detention procedures adopted for 1226(a) bond hearings provide sufficient process to satisfy constitutional requirements. Thus, the aliens are unable to establish a likelihood of success on their due process claims. Nor have they shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief. View "Marvin Miranda v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a naturalized United States citizen, received advice from counsel in 2010 that because of his newly obtained citizenship, his guilty plea to a narcotics offense would not subject him to deportation. However, Defendant's citizenship was revoked in 2016. In 2018, Defendant received a Notice to Appear informing him that he would be removed from the country because his 2010 conviction was an aggravated felony. Upon receiving that notice, he filed a collateral attack upon his 2010 guilty plea under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2255. The district court found that Defendant’s 2018 petition was untimely under Sec. 2255(f)(4).The court reasoned that Sec. 2255 petitions must typically be filed within one year of the date “on which the judgment of conviction becomes final.” But petitions based on facts that arise after a conviction becomes final must instead be filed within one year of “the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.Defendant testified that his Alexandria-based attorney told him in 2016 that his conviction was an aggravated felony. The court found that notice alone triggered Sec. 2255(f)(4)’s limitations period. Second, even setting aside that admission, the nature of Defendant’s sentencing proceedings on July 8, 2016, put him on inquiry notice that his 2010 conviction was an aggravated felony. Therefore, the court held that the district court correctly dismissed the petition as untimely. View "US v. Jose Nunez-Garcia" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of El Salvador, entered the United States in 2013 without authorization. The next year, Petition was arrested and ultimately found removable. Petitioner sought relief under the Convention Against Torture, claiming he would be tortured by the MS-13 gang, the police, or anti-gang vigilante groups if he was deported to El Salvador.The Immigration Judge denied relief, finding Petitioner's testimony was not credible and that there was "less than a fifty percent chance of torture both separately and in the aggregate" that Petitioner would be tortured by any party. The Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") affirmed.On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed. The Immigration Judge properly considered the aggregate chance that Petitioner would be tortured by any party. Neither the Immigration Judge nor the BIA ignored relevant evidence that Petitioner would be tortured. Further, the BIA used the proper standard when assessing Petitioner's claims. View "Miguel Ibarra Chevez v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff entered the United States in 2014 when he was apprehended by border patrol agents before eventually being released to his older brother (a resident of North Carolina).On or shortly before his eighteenth birthday, Plaintiff filed an application for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). SIJ status provides certain protections against removal under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1255 and can lead to lawful permanent residency and citizenship. USCIS issued Plaintiff a Notice of Intent to Deny his SIJ application and Plaintiff appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), which upheld the denial. Plaintiff then filed a complaint in district court seeking review of the agency’s denial of his SIJ applicationOn rehearing en banc, the court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded with instructions to grant Plaintiff’s motion to set aside USCIS’s denial of SIJ status. Following his victory before the en banc court, Plaintiff sought to recover attorney’s fees and expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The district court denied Plaintiff’s EAJA application, finding the government’s position was “substantially justified.” The Fourth Circuit reasoned that "this was a tough case" involving reasonable arguments on both sides. Thus, the court affirmed the district court’s ruling finding the government’s position was substantially justified. View "Felipe Perez v. Ur Jaddou" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit granted the petition for review of the BIA's decision concluding that petitioner is categorically ineligible under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(H)(i)(I), because his U.S. citizen father is no longer living. Pursuant to section 1227(a)(1)(H)(i)(I), the Attorney General has discretion to grant waiver of removal to a person who is the son or daughter of a citizen of the United States.The court concluded that the statutory text includes no living-parent requirement. In this case, the issue is not whether petitioner should be granted a waiver as a matter of executive discretion—it is whether Congress has forbidden one via legislative command. Because the answer is no, the court granted the petition for review, vacated the Board's decision, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Julmice v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit granted the petition for review challenging the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal of the IJ's denial of petitioner's motion to reopen removal proceedings. The court concluded that petitioner's motion to reopen should have been considered under 8 C.F.R. 1003.23(b)(3), not section 1003.23(b)(4). Therefore, petitioner filed his motion within 90 days of the final hearing, in which case section 1003.23(b)(3) applies instead of section 1003.23(b)(4). In this case, the BIA abused its discretion by failing to evaluate whether petitioner offered, in the proper form and with the appropriate contents, evidence that was material and not previously available at the initial hearing. The court also concluded that Zambrano v. Sessions', 878 F.3d 84 (4th Cir. 2017). A.R. 47, 64, framework in examining changed circumstances should have been applied to petitioner's asylum application. The court vacated and remanded for the BIA to consider petitioner's motion to reopen under the appropriate standard. The BIA should also address petitioner's asylum application under the framework of Zambrano and conduct any further proceedings consistent with the opinion. View "Garcia Hernandez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit denied a petition for review challenging the BIA's denial of petitioner's application for asylum based on its finding that she had not shown she was persecuted on account of her membership in her alleged particular social group, "family members of Guisela Toledo-Vasquez." The court concluded that, despite the tragic circumstances that caused petitioner to flee Mexico, substantial evidence supports the Board's conclusion that she was not persecuted on account of her family relationship with Guisela. Rather, petitioner's family membership to Guisela is merely an incidental, tangential, superficial and subordinate reason for her persecution. In this case, the record suggests that had petitioner been someone else other than Guisela's sister, she would have been targeted just the same. View "Toledo-Vasquez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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After Mejia-Velasquez entered the United States without inspection, she sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under CAT, claiming that she and other members of her family had been the victims of physical harm due to their membership in a particular Honduran political party, and their affiliation with a family member who was elected mayor of the family’s hometown as a member of that same party. Because Mejia-Velasquez failed to produce biometrics (such as her photograph, fingerprints, and signature) in support of her application, after having been warned of the consequences of failing to do so, the immigration judge deemed her application abandoned pursuant to 8 C.F.R.1003.47(c) and 1208.10 and ordered her removed.The BIA and Fourth Circuit affirmed. Section 1003.47(d) is unambiguous as to the three requirements specified — oral notification, a biometrics notice, and instructions. Mejia-Velasquez actually received a biometrics notice from the IJ at her master calendar hearing. That document, entitled “Fingerprint Warning,” contained all the information that could reasonably be contemplated by the regulation’s requirement of “a biometrics notice.” It warned of the consequences for failing to submit the required information (abandonment) and set a deadline. View "Mejia-Velasquez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Tomas-Ramos, a citizen of Guatemala, reentered the U.S. illegally in 2018. A removal order previously entered against him was reinstated. Tomas-Ramos expressed a fear of returning to Guatemala because gang members had threatened to kill him for resisting their recruitment of his son. An asylum officer conducted a screening interview and determined that Tomas-Ramos failed to establish a reasonable fear of harm and was not entitled to relief from his reinstated removal order. The asylum officer recognized that Tomas-Ramos might have been threatened because of his relationship to his son but held that immediate family is not a qualifying “particular social group” under 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3)(A) because it “lacks social distinction.” An IJ agreed.The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded. The primary ground for the IJ’s decision was an erroneous conclusion that there was no “nexus” between the harm Tomas-Ramos faced and a protected ground. The record compels the conclusion that Tomas-Ramos was persecuted on account of a protected ground, in the form of his family ties. The IJ’s finding that “[Tomas-Ramos] can relocate” is not an independent ground for affirmance, because that finding is called into question by the determination that Tomas-Ramos has established past persecution. View "Tomas-Ramos v. Garland" on Justia Law