Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of habeas corpus relief to petitioner, who was detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1226(a), which provides for discretionary detention of noncitizens during the pendency of removal proceedings. The habeas petition challenged the procedures employed in petitioner's bond hearings, which required him to prove, to the satisfaction of an immigration judge, that he is neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk.The court held that the district court correctly granted the petition where petitioner was denied due process because he was incarcerated for fifteen months (with no end in sight) while the Government at no point justified his incarceration. The district court also provided the correct remedy by ordering a new bond hearing in which the Government bore the burden of showing by clear and convincing evidence that petitioner was either a danger or a flight risk. View "Velasco Lopez v. Decker" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the government defendants in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action brought by plaintiff, seeking documents related to the revocation of his visa.The court held that the contested documents were properly withheld under FOIA Exemption 3, and specifically INA 222(f), because they pertain to the issuance and refusal of a visa. Furthermore, officials properly invoked Exemption 3 to withhold revocation documents as they are related to visa issuances and refusals. Finally, plaintiff failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that the records are needed by a court "in the interest of the ends of justice," and the discretionary release of records under 8 U.S.C. 1202(f)(1) provides no basis for disclosure in this FOIA action. For the reasons set forth in a separate summary order addressing FOIA Exemption 5 filed simultaneously with this opinion, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Spadaro v. United States Customs and Border Protection" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision affirming the Board's conclusion that Aleutian violated certain statutory and regulatory requirements governing the H-1B temporary foreign worker program, and order requiring Aleutian to pay back wages to two Program workers.The court held that agency regulations duly promulgated under the statute unambiguously require H-1B employers to make wage payments in "prorated installments," "no less often than monthly." Therefore, the court concluded that an employer's failure to satisfy this requirement constitutes a failure to comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act's overall "required wage obligation"—a conclusion that supports DOL's award of back wages to Employee Gangjee.The court declined to adopt the proposed limitations on DOL's investigatory authority by holding that DOL's investigation into an H-1B Program complaint may not exceed the specific allegations of misconduct made in that complaint. Rather, the court affirmed DOL's authority to investigate Aleutian's compliance with the H-1B Program's wage requirement as to Employee Horn, as well as to Gangjee. The court stated that such an inquiry was reasonably within the scope of DOL's investigative authority into the allegations made in Gangjee's complaint and is lawfully contemplated by Program regulations. View "Aleutian Capital Partners v. Pizzella" on Justia Law

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After the government removed petitioner from the United Stated, the removal mooted the government's appeal of the district court's order directing the government to release petitioner from immigration detention. The government now moves to dismiss the appeal as moot and requests vacatur of the district court's decisions related to 8 C.F.R. 241.14(d), a regulation that the government had invoked to detain petitioner. Petitioner opposes the government's request for vacatur and separately requests vacatur of the Second Circuit's opinion granting the government's motion for a stay pending appeal.The Second Circuit held that because the district court's decisions related to 8 C.F.R. 241.14(d) could have legal consequences in future litigation between the parties, those decisions should be vacated so that "the rights of all parties are preserved." However, this court's opinion granting the government's motion for a stay pending appeal does not warrant vacatur because it does not have legal consequences for the parties. The court held that a decision concerning a stay is not a final adjudication on the merits of an appeal and lacks preclusive effect. Therefore, the court denied petitioner's motion to vacate this court's opinion granting the government's motion for a stay pending appeal, granted the government's motion to vacate the district court's decisions related to section 241.14(d), dismissed the appeal as moot, and remanded with instructions to dismiss petitioner's challenge to his detention as moot. View "Hassoun v. Searls" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of El Salvador, petitioned for review of the BIA's 2018 decision finding him removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) for having been convicted of an "aggravated felony" as defined by section 101(a)(43)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The BIA found that petitioner was convicted of "sexual abuse of a minor" based on his 2010 New York state conviction under New York Penal Law 130.65(3) for sexual abuse in the first degree.The Second Circuit rejected petitioner's contention that section 130.65(3) criminalizes more conduct than the federal definition of "sexual abuse of a minor" covers. The court held that, because a conviction under N.Y. Penal Law 130.65(3) requires both that the victim be under the age of eleven and that the perpetrator's contact with the victim be "for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire," the state statute reaches no farther than the crime of "sexual abuse of a minor" as set forth in section 101(a)(43)(A) and construed by the BIA in In re Rodriguez-Rodriguez, 22 I. & N. Dec. at 996. Therefore, a conviction under the state statute is an aggravated felony under the INA. View "Rodriguez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's order of removal of petitioner to the Dominican Republic. The court held that a conviction under New York Penal Law 165.50 is categorically an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G). The court deferred to the BIA's reasonable interpretation of the ambiguous term "including" in "including receipt of stolen property" in section 1101(a)(43)(G). Under that interpretation, "'receipt of stolen property' is a distinct aggravated felony independent of theft and the property received need not have been stolen by means of 'theft' as generically defined." The court also determined that an intent to deprive is inherent in the requirement that an offender "knowingly" possesses stolen property. The court considered petitioner's remaining arguments and concluded that they are without merit. View "Santana v. Barr" on Justia Law

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After Plaintiffs Moya and Ruiz applied to become naturalized citizens of the United States and the government denied their requests for disability exemptions from the civics and English testing requirements, they filed suit in federal court claiming that the naturalization process is unlawful.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims, holding that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) does not allow Moya and Ruiz to seek judicial review of their denial of their applications until after completion of the available administrative review procedures, and thus Moya and Ruiz did not exhaust their administrative remedies. The court also held that the district court correctly found that the other plaintiff in this appeal, YMPJ, had Article III standing to sue, but did not fall within the zone of interests of the INA, the Administrative Procedure Act, or the Due Process Clause. Therefore, YMPJ, a non-profit organization that assists applicants for naturalization, could not bring a cause of action on its own behalf. View "Moya v. United States Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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On January, 2020, the Supreme Court stayed a preliminary injunction issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York enjoining DHS from implementing a final rule setting out a new agency interpretation of immigration law that expands the meaning of "public charge" in determining whether a non-citizen is admissible to the United States. While the appeal of that preliminary injunction was pending before the Second Circuit, the district court issued a new, nationwide, preliminary injunction preventing DHS from enforcing that same rule based on the COVID-19 pandemic.The Second Circuit granted DHS's motion to stay the second preliminary injunction, holding that DHS has shown a likelihood of success on the merits based primarily on the district court’s apparent lack of jurisdiction to issue the preliminary injunction during the appeal of its prior, virtually identical injunction (coupled with DHS's showing of irreparable harm resulting from its inability to enforce its regulation). The court also doubted whether the nationwide application of the injunction was proper in light of the considerations the court set forth in New York v. Dep't of Homeland Sec., which was not available to the district court at the time it issued the second injunction. Finally, the court concluded that DHS has shown irreparable injury from the district court's prohibition on effectuating the new regulation. View "New York v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision finding petitioner removable as an aggravated felon for having been convicted of fraud involving a loss to the victims exceeding $10,000 pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), 1101(a)(43)(M)(i). Defendant was convicted of insurance fraud and grand larceny, and was ordered to pay $77,199 in restitution without any indication as to whether the restitution order was for the benefit of victims of the insurance fraud, the grand larceny, or both.The court held that the BIA relied on inadequate analysis in concluding that the $77,199 restitution order, on its own, showed that petitioner's insurance fraud caused more than $10,000 in victim losses. In this case, where petitioner was convicted of two separate crimes and ordered to pay an overarching restitution amount without indication of what part, if any, was for the insurance fraud, the court held that the restitution order, without more, is insufficient to demonstrate that more than $10,000 in losses were caused by the insurance fraud count as distinct from the larceny count. Furthermore, the BIA gave no explanation why it concluded that more than $10,000 of the restitution award was attributable to losses caused by the insurance fraud. Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rampersaud v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of state and local governments and a group of non-profit organizations, filed separate suits under the Administrative Procedure Act, both challenging the validity of a DHS rule interpreting 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4), which renders inadmissible to the United States any non-citizen deemed likely to become a public charge. The district court entered orders in both cases to enjoin implementation of the rule nationwide.After determining that the States and the Organizations have Article III standing to challenge the rule and that they fall within the zone of interests of the public charge statute, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction enjoining the implementation of the rule. The court held that plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the rule is contrary to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The court explained that, in reenacting the public charge ground in 1996, Congress endorsed the settled administrative and judicial interpretation of that ground as requiring a holistic examination of a non-citizen's self-sufficiency focused on ability to work and eschewing any idea that simply receiving welfare benefits made one a public charge. Furthermore, the rule makes receipt of a broad range of public benefits on even a short-term basis the very definition of "public charge." Therefore, that exceedingly broad definition is not in accordance with law.The court also held that plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the rule is arbitrary and capricious. In this case, DHS has not provided a reasoned explanation for its changed definition of "public charge" or the rule's expanded list of relevant benefits. The court further held that plaintiffs have established irreparable harm, and that the balance of the equities and the public interest tips in favor of granting the injunction. However, the court modified the scope of the injunctions to cover only the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. View "New York v. United States Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law