Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
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Cruz‐Velasco entered the U.S. without inspection in 1999. He has remained continuously present, raising his American‐born sons as a single father after the death of his partner. In 2014, Cruz‐Velasco was convicted of reckless driving, endangering safety, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, with his nine‐ and 11‐year‐old sons in the car. In subsequent removal proceedings, Cruz‐Velasco sought cancellation of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b). While in removal proceedings, Cruz‐Velasco was convicted again with DUI and sentenced to serve another 10 days in jail. Cruz‐Velasco stopped drinking after his 2016 arrest and completed a court‐ordered substance abuse program.The IJ held that he was ineligible for cancellation of removal, having failed to establish that his sons would suffer hardship beyond what is predictable as a result of a parent’s removal and because his DUI convictions demonstrated a lack of good moral character. While his BIA appeal was pending, the Attorney General ruled that two or more DUI convictions in the relevant period raise a presumption that a noncitizen lacks good moral character, which cannot be overcome solely by showing rehabilitation. The BIA affirmed the removal order Amid the 2020 COVID‐19 pandemic, Cruz‐Velasco sought to reopen his application, submitting new evidence that he had been diagnosed with diabetes and that this condition increased his risk of dying from COVID‐19 in Mexico. The BIA denied Cruz‐Velasco’s motion, without specifically addressing arguments concerning his diabetes. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. View "Cruz-Velasco v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Porosh, a citizen of Bangladesh, claims he joined a political party, Jamaat in 2012, at age 15, and that an opposing party, Awami, called and threatened to kill Porosh; attacked Porosh and broke his hand; and held him against his will for two days. Porosh did not report the first two incidents to the police because he believes Awami controls the government. After he escaped, Porosh tried to report these three incidents. The police allegedly threatened to kill him if he filed a report. Porosh moved to another city but he claims Awami was still looking for him. In 2015, Porosh moved to Malaysia. In 2020, Awami contacted his father, threatening that if they found Porosh, they would kill him. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia announced that everyone with a temporary work permit would be returned to their home country. Porosh went to the United States with what he believed to be a valid work permit. When he presented the permit in Chicago, officers identified it as fake.After an interview, officers determined Porosh had a “credible fear of persecution” based on “political opinion” but an IJ rendered an adverse credibility determination and denied Porosh asylum. The BIA dismissed Porosh’s appeal. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. While some of the IJ’s conclusions lack evidentiary support, on the whole, the decision is supported by findings that have a credible basis in the record. View "Porosh v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Zaragoza, a citizen of Mexico and a lawful U.S. permanent resident, pleaded guilty to the Indiana offense of criminal neglect of a dependent after locking her six-year-old son in a closet for six hours. She was sentenced to one year in jail, suspended to time served plus 30 days. After completing her sentence, she traveled abroad. When she returned, DHS found Zaragoza inadmissible based on the neglect conviction, which the agency classified as a “crime involving moral turpitude,” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). An immigration judge entered a removal order. In the meantime, Zaragoza petitioned the state court to modify her sentence, to bring herself within the “petty offense” exception to inadmissibility, which is available to first-time offenders sentenced to six months or less. The state court reduced her sentence to 179 days.The BIA rejected Zaragoza’s arguments, finding that the Indiana offense was categorically a crime involving moral turpitude and that the sentence modification order was not effective to establish Zaragoza’s eligibility for the petty-offense exception. The Board relied on a 2019 Attorney General decision declaring that state-court sentence modification orders are effective for immigration purposes only if based on a legal defect in the underlying criminal proceeding (Thomas). The Seventh Circuit remanded. Applying Thomas in Zaragoza’s case is an impermissibly retroactive application of a new rule. View "Zaragoza v. Garland" on Justia Law

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In 2008, DHS removed Casas, a Mexican citizen, from the United States pursuant to a valid removal order. Four years later, DHS learned she had returned and sought to reinstate the removal order, using Form I-871. The form has a large section providing notice to the noncitizen of DHS’s intent to reinstate a removal order, a section for the noncitizen to acknowledge receipt of the notice, and a final section for DHS’s ultimate decision. According to the dates on the Form I-871 Casas received, DHS made its decision to reinstate Casas’s removal order first, and gave Casas notice later—an inversion of the procedure ordinarily requiring notice to a noncitizen before a final decision is rendered, The large notice section is dated a day after the decision to reinstate but the middle section shows that Casas acknowledged receipt of the notice six months after that decision. For seven years, Casas remained on supervision in the United States. In 2020, when Casas appeared for a routine check-in, DHS detained her. Casas requested a reasonable-fear interview, during which she discussed a purported kidnapping and possible “reprisal[s].” Casas’s mother and sister still live in Mexico.The asylum officer determined that Casas had not shown a reasonable fear of persecution or torture. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Casas cannot show that she suffered any prejudice as a result of DHS’s procedural errors. The IJ’s reasonable-fear finding is supported by substantial evidence. View "Casas v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Segid, a citizen of Eritrea, had children there. In 2004, Segid married a U.S. citizen in Eritrea. In 2006, Segid fled Eritrea for Egypt and obtained an immigrant visa without legal counsel. The application asked him to list “ALL Children.” He marked “N/A.” He moved to the U.S. and became a lawful permanent resident. He has three children from his marriage. In 2015, Segid applied for naturalization, listed all six children, and indicated that he had never given false, fraudulent, or misleading information to a government official. At his naturalization interview, the officer confronted him about the discrepancy. Segid responded that he did not list the older children because they were not part of his visa petition, he did not believe he was named on their birth certificates, and he worried for their safety.USCIS denied Segid’s naturalization application, finding that Segid had not established that he was a person of good moral character. Segid sought review under 8 U.S.C. 1421(c). The court found that Segid had admitted that he intentionally omitted the children from his visa application, which was a material misrepresentation to procure an immigration benefit. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Although Segid argued the merits of his eligibility for naturalization before the district court, his primary argument on appeal was that he has stated a claim for relief under section 1421(c) because he met the statute's administrative requirements but a 1421(c) claim focuses on whether the individual should have been granted naturalization. Segid’s brief was silent on this question; he waived the argument. View "Segid v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services" on Justia Law

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Marin entered the U.S. illegally as a child in 1988 and was removed within months. He illegally reentered, was ordered removed in 1997, and was removed to Mexico. He illegally reentered, returned to Mexico, and reentered again—most recently in 2004, then remained in the U.S., accumulating convictions for residential burglary, domestic battery, illegal firearm possession, and four DUIs. DHS located Marin in an Illinois prison and reinstated the 1997 removal order. Because Marin has been convicted of residential burglary, an aggravated felony, he is inadmissible for 20 years, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(9)(A)(i), and is barred from seeking withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act or the Convention Against Torture.He sought deferral of removal under the Convention. An asylum officer determined that he had a reasonable fear of torture; he was placed in “withholding only” proceedings. The judge granted deferral of removal. The BIA reversed and ordered him removed. Marin petitioned for review but did not seek a stay of removal from the court. His request for a DHA administrative stay was denied. He was removed while his case was pending. The Seventh Circuit dismissed a petition for review. Because he seeks only deferral of removal in a withholding-only proceeding, his removal moots his claim for relief. View "Garcia-Marin v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Brito unlawfully entered the U.S. in or before 2013. After DHS ordered him removed, Brito illegally reentered before 2019. DHS issued a second notice of removal, Brito applied for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act and withholding or deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), claiming that he would be subject to persecution and torture if removed to Mexico. Brito testified that he had fled Mexico because cartel members confronted and abducted him at gunpoint. His home was ransacked by the cartel. Brito’s expert testified that the cartel would seek him out to exact revenge for his escape and noted the Mexican government’s history of acquiescing to or even colluding with the cartel.The IJ granted Brito deferral of removal under CAT. The BIA vacated that decision and ordered Brito removed to Mexico, finding no factual support for the finding that the cartel sought him out specifically or was even aware of his identity. The BIA characterized Brito’s evidence as largely describing “the general inadequacies and corruption in the Mexican government.” The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The BIA applied the correct standard and was not prohibited from accepting an untimely brief from DHS. View "Brito v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The federal government may deny admission or adjustment of status to a noncitizen “likely at any time to become a public charge, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(A). For decades, “public charge” was understood to refer to noncitizens “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the meaning of “public charge” to disqualify a broader set of noncitizens from benefits. The Rule immediately generated extensive litigation.In 2020, the district court vacated the 2019 Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701. In 2021, the federal government dismissed appeals defending the 2019 Rule in courts around the country. Several states subsequently sought to intervene in the proceedings, hoping to defend the 2019 Rule; they also moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). The district court denied the motions, finding each untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to timeliness. The court declined to address other issues. View "Cook County, Illinois v. State of Texas" on Justia Law

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Menghistab, then a lawful U.S. permanent resident, pleaded guilty to rape in Indiana state court in 2011. The Department of Homeland Security began the process of removing him to Ethiopia. Because of his rape conviction and resulting sentence, Menghistab was barred from seeking asylum, discretionary withholding of removal, and waiver of removability. He was eligible only to apply for deferral of removal under the Convention against Torture. An immigration judge denied him that relief. The BIA affirmed.Ethiopia refused to issue Menghistab a travel document. He was released from custody in 2013 and continued to live in the United States until, in 2020, Ethiopia agreed to issue the travel document. The Department detained Menghistab pending removal. He moved to reopen his case, citing the changed circumstances in Ethiopia occasioned by the 2020 outbreak of civil war in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. The Tigray War has resulted in widespread attacks on civilians. Ethnic Eritreans, such as Menghistab, have suffered particularly severe human‐rights violations. The Board denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing.The Seventh Circuit remanded. A new hearing is needed to address the materiality of the war with respect to Menghistab’s risk of torture and whether Menghistab is an Ethiopian citizen. View "Menghistab v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Aguirre-Zuniga’s family immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. when he was three years old. He is now raising his own six-year-old daughter, an American citizen in Indiana. He became a lawful permanent resident 15 years ago. His primary language is English, and he has visited Mexico only three times since emigrating. In 2018, he pled guilty to the delivery of methamphetamine in Indiana. DHS concluded that his conviction was an aggravated felony subjecting him to deportation, and the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed.The Seventh Circuit vacated. The Indiana law prohibiting the delivery of methamphetamine criminalizes more conduct than the corresponding federal law given that Indiana defines “methamphetamine” in a way federal law does not. When a state statute is broader than its federal counterpart, a conviction under that statute cannot trigger a noncitizen’s deportation. View "Aguirre-Zuniga v. Garland" on Justia Law