Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioners' third motion to reopen. Petitioners argued that the BIA abused its discretion in denying their motion to reopen because it failed to address their primary evidence of changed country conditions for Christians in Indonesia and incorrectly concluded that their failure to submit a new asylum application with their motion made the motion procedurally deficient under 8 C.F.R. 1003.2(c)(1). The court held that the BIA's one-and-a-half page order failed to account for relevant evidence of changed country conditions. The court also held that section 1003.2(c)(1) does not require the submission of a new asylum application for motions such as this one. Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's decision and remanded for explicit consideration of the changed country conditions evidence. View "Tanusantoso v. Barr" on Justia Law

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To hold categorically that an applicant for relief under the Convention Against Torture must be threatened more than once and that such a person must suffer physical harm before fleeing is an error of law. The Second Circuit granted a petition for review challenging the denial of petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT. The court held that the IJ erred as a matter of law for penalizing petitioner for her prompt flight. Although the IJ credited petitioner's testimony that the threats received by the MS-13 gang were believable and no way remote, it erred by requiring that petitioner and her family wait until they suffered physical harm or until the threats recurred before they fled. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Martinez De Artiga v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Sexual assault in the third degree under CGS 53a-72a(a)(1) necessarily includes as an element the use or threatened use of violent force and thus categorically constitutes a crime of violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. 16(a). The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's order of removal. The court declined to remand for the agency to consider in the first instance whether petitioner's conviction of Connecticut third-degree sexual assault is a crime of violence under the alternative definition in 18 U.S.C. 16(a), but rather considered that legal question de novo and held that it categorically satisfies that definition. The court vacated the petition and denied the pending motion for stay of removal as moot. View "Kondjoua v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision ordering petitioner removed based on his 2016 Connecticut state conviction for carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes 29-35(a). The court held that Section 29-35(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes is not a categorical match for the generic federal firearms offense, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C). The court held that the Connecticut statute criminalizes conduct involving "antique firearms" that the INA firearms offense definition does not, precluding petitioner's removal on the basis of the state conviction. The court also held that, under Hylton v. Sessions, 897 F.3d 58 (2d Cir. 2018), the realistic probability test has no bearing here, where the text of the state statute gives it a broader reach than the federal definition. Accordingly, the court vacated the order of removal and remanded with directions to terminate the removal proceedings. View "Williams v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding that petitioner was removable for having been previously convicted of misprision of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. 4. The court aligned itself with the Ninth Circuit and held that misprision is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). The court held that the government failed to show that misprision rises to the level of base, vile, conscience-shocking conduct traditionally attributed to the gravest and most inherently evil offenses. Furthermore, nothing in the misprision statute suggests that the crime has, as an element, the fraudulent intent necessary for misprision to constitute a CIMT. Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's decision. View "Mendez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Petitioner challenged the denials of his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Second Circuit found no error in the BIA's rejection of petitioner's untimely asylum claim and its denial of withholding or CAT protection insofar as petitioner professes fear of persecution and torture from former police supervisors. However, insofar as petitioner seeks withholding and CAT protection based on feared persecution and torture from gangs, the court held that the record does not permit it to determine whether the agency considered all relevant evidence and applied the correct legal standard. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, affirming in part and vacating in part the BIA's decision. View "Scarlett v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's application for deferral or removal under the Convention Against Torture. Petitioner contended that, if he was removed to Jamaica, he would be killed in retaliation for his earlier cooperation with law enforcement. The court held that the jurisdictional provision in 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2)(C), which limits this court's jurisdiction, applies only to cases where the IJ has found a petitioner removable based on covered criminal activity, and that it does not apply where a petitioner's order of removal is based solely on unlawful presence. The court also held that the IJ and BIA discounted petitioner's credible testimony without proper explanation, failed to consider substantial and material evidence that petitioner is likely to be killed if removed to Jamaica, and erroneously placed a burden on petitioner to prove he could not internally relocate in order to avoid torture. Accordingly, the court remanded petitioner's application for deferral of removal for further proceedings. View "Manning v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a legal permanent resident, sought review of an agency order of removal based on a finding that he committed an "aggravated felony" within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G). Under section 1101(a)(43)(G), to establish an aggravated felony, the government must show by clear and convincing evidence that a noncitizen committed a "theft offense" that resulted in a term of imprisonment of "at least one year." Petitioner was a member of the U.S. Army when he pleaded guilty to four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), one of which was larceny of military property. Under the military's customary practice of unitary sentencing at the time, the military judge issued a general sentence that imposed a punishment for all four of petitioner's convictions for 30 months' confinement. The Second Circuit held that, under the military's traditional unitary sentencing scheme, a military judgment in which a single sentence of confinement is imposed in connection with multiple counts of conviction may not be presumed to be equivalent to equal, full‐term, concurrent sentences as to each count of conviction. Because the government has not carried its burden, the court granted the petition for review and remanded for further proceedings. View "Persad v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Attorney General was statutorily authorized to impose all three challenged immigration-related conditions on Byrne Criminal Justice Assistance grant applications. The conditions require grant applicants to certify that they will (1) comply with federal law prohibiting any restrictions on the communication of citizenship and alien status information with federal immigration authorities; (2) provide federal authorities, upon request, with the release dates of incarcerated illegal aliens; and (3) afford federal immigration officers access to incarcerated illegal aliens. The Second Circuit held that the Certification Condition (1) is statutorily authorized by 34 U.S.C. 10153(a)(5)(D)'s requirement that applicants comply with "all other applicable Federal laws," and (2) does not violate the Tenth Amendment's anticommandeering principle; the Notice Condition is statutorily authorized by section 10153(a)(4)'s reporting requirement, section 10153(a)(5)(C)'s coordination requirement, and section 10155's rule‐making authority; and the Access Condition is statutorily authorized by section 10153(a)(5)(C)'s coordination requirement, and section 10155's rule‐making authority. The court also held that the Attorney General did not overlook important detrimental effects of the challenged conditions so as to make their imposition arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's award of partial summary judgment to plaintiffs; vacated the district court's mandate ordering defendants to release withheld 2017 Byrne funds, as well as its injunction barring defendants from imposing the three challenged immigration‐related conditions on such grants; and remanded for further proceedings. View "New York v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal from an IJ's denial of her application for asylum. Petitioner claimed that she was entitled to asylum because if she is returned to El Salvador, she will be persecuted on account of her membership in a particular social group ‐‐ Salvadoran women who have resisted the sexual advances of a gang member ‐‐ and political opinion ‐‐ resistance to the norm of female subordination to male dominance that pervades El Salvador. The court held that, although petitioner failed to establish her asylum claim based on membership in a particular social group, the agency did not adequately consider petitioner's political opinion claim. In this case, the agency concluded that petitioner did not have a political opinion; concluded that petitioner simply chose to not be a victim; and failed to consider whether the attackers imputed an anti‐patriarchy political opinion to her when she resisted their sexual advances, and whether that imputed opinion was a central reason for their decision to target her. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hernandez-Chacon v. Barr" on Justia Law