Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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Petitioners, Iraqi nationals, were ordered removed years ago because of criminal offenses they committed in the U.S. Iraq refused to repatriate them, so Petitioners remained under orders of supervision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In 2017, Iraq began to cooperate and removal of Iraqi nationals resumed. In April 2017 ICE conducted a removal by charter flight to Iraq, scheduling a second charter for June and arresting more than 200 Iraqi nationals. Iraq declined to issue requisite travel documents and would accept only Iraqi nationals who had unexpired passports and were returning on commercial flights. Petitioners filed a putative class action habeas petition on behalf of all Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal, who have been, or will be, arrested and detained as a result of Iraq’s recent decision,” seeking a TRO or stay of removal, pending arguments on allegedly changed country conditions. Under 8 U.S.C. 1252(g), immigration courts hold exclusive jurisdiction over removal proceedings. The district court stayed the final removal orders and concluded that it had jurisdiction to hear Petitioners’ claims as an as-applied constitutional violation of the Suspension Clause. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court lacked the jurisdiction. Rejecting Petitioners’ argument the petition-for-review process is constitutionally inadequate as an alternative to habeas review, the court noted that Petitioners had years to file motions to reopen and the administrative scheme provides multiple avenues to stay removal while pursuing relief. The court was not merely interpreting a statute: it “created out of thin air a requirement for bond hearings that does not exist in the statute; and adopted new standards that the government must meet.” View "Hamama v. Adducci" on Justia Law

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Hosseini fled Iran and obtained asylum in the U.S. in 1999. He later unsuccessfully applied to adjust his legal status to become a lawful permanent resident. The government concluded that Hosseini provided material support to Iranian terrorist organizations, rendering him inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI)(dd), by copying and distribution of flyers from organizations, including Mujahadin-e Khalq (MeK) and Fadain-e Khalq (FeK). Hosseini insists that the flyers alerted Iranians to the new regime’s human rights abuses, including its crackdown on women, students, workers, and civil dissidents. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that determination. Hosseini did not demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he “did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the organization was a terrorist organization.” The government described a 1981 terrorist attack, during which MeK detonated bombs in the Islamic Republic party’s head office that killed “some seventy high-ranking Iranian officials. Given Hosseini’s acknowledgment that he “eagerly sought out information about various political viewpoints” after the 1979 revolution, it seems implausible that he was unaware of this attack and the organization that perpetrated it. While Hosseini left MeK voluntarily and did not engage in violent terrorism, Hosseini was not a minor during his six-year involvement with the groups; he admitted hearing rumors that MeK was engaged in terrorist activity. His support was relevant in introducing Iranians to the organizations and significant: the nonviolent flyers gave legitimacy to MeK and FeK although they were engaged in terrorism. View "Hosseini v. Nielsen" on Justia Law

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Gafurova, a citizen of Uzbekistan, entered the U.S. in June 2003, as a visitor. She remained in the U.S. without authorization and applied for Asylum in June 2004. An IJ ordered her removal, characterizing Gafurova’s asylum application as frivolous. The BIA denied Gafurova’s appeal but reversed the frivolity determination. The Second Circuit denied her petition for review. Gafurova moved to reopen because of a pending visa petition filed on her behalf by her husband. On remand, the IJ denied Gafurova’s application for adjustment of status because she had previously filed a frivolous asylum application. The BIA again remanded. DHS then submitted evidence that Gafurova’s 2011 visa petition was revoked; she was not eligible to seek adjustment of status. Gafurova moved to change venue to New York for a second asylum application, arguing that she converted to Christianity and that she would be viewed as a traitor in Uzbekistan because information is publicly available that she sought asylum. An IJ denied Gafurova’s motion, found her barred from filing a second application, and ordered her removal. The BIA dismissed her appeal. While Gafurova’s Sixth Circuit petition was pending, she again moved to reopen, citing “changed circumstances” in Uzbekistan and new Sixth CIrcuit law pertaining to asylum applications based solely upon well-founded fear of future persecution. The BIA denied her motion, stating that the public disclosure of the Second Circuit decision did not violate asylum confidentiality. The Sixth Circuit denied her petition for review, finding that the BIA applied the correct standards and that its decision was supported by substantial evidence. View "Gafurova v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Jasso obtained lawful U.S. permanent resident status. More than a decade later, he pled guilty to first-degree home invasion in Michigan. DHS began removal proceedings, arguing that Jasso’s home-invasion conviction was a “crime of violence” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(F), 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), which then defined a “crime of violence” with both an elements clause and a residual clause, 18 U.S.C. 16. The IJ found that Jasso’s home-invasion conviction was a crime of violence under the residual clause. Before the Board of Immigration Appeals acted, the Sixth Circuit found the residual clause unconstitutionally vague. The BIA remanded for a new removability determination. The IJ terminated the proceeding, warning Jasso that DHS could “recharge under a different theory.” Two days later DHS initiated a second removal proceeding, arguing that Jasso’s home-invasion conviction was a “burglary offense” rather than a “crime of violence,” 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G), 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). The IJ agreed and rejected Jasso’s argument that res judicata barred the second proceeding. The BIA affirmed, concluding that res judicata does not apply in removal proceedings involving aggravated felons. The Sixth Circuit vacated and remanded for determination of whether claim preclusion applies, which depends on whether the first removal proceeding was dismissed with or without prejudice—an issue never addressed by the Board. View "Jasso-Arangure v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of the United Kingdom and a lawful U.S. permanent resident, was convicted of two counts of rape in 2011 under Ohio law. He was charged as removable for being convicted of an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), which lists rape as an aggravated felony, but it does not define the term. An IJ found held that Petitioner was removable without eligibility for relief. Petitioner argued in his appeal to the BIA that his Ohio conviction is not an aggravated felony because Ohio’s definition of rape includes digital penetration, whereas the federal law does not. The BIA disagreed. The Sixth Circuit reversed, noting that the Fifth Circuit and the BIA previously considered this question. The BIA reversed course in Petitioner’s case. A conviction for rape in Ohio can be committed by digital penetration, whereas the aggravated felony of rape under the Immigration and Nationality Act cannot; the Ohio conviction does not categorically fit within the federal definition, and Petitioner’s conviction is not an aggravated felony. View "Keeley v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Hernandez-Perez, a Mexican citizen, has lived in the U.S. since 2000. His daughter, L., is a 17-year-old U.S. citizen. Hernandez-Perez has some criminal history, mostly “misdemeanor traffic offenses” but has maintained steady employment despite a handicap. In 2011, Hernandez-Perez was placed in removal proceedings and sought cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1)(D), arguing that, if he were removed, L. would face “permanent family separation.” After that application was denied, Hernandez-Perez, alleged his family circumstances changed because he learned that an eight-year-old U.S. citizen, A.W., whose mother is not his wife, might be his son. A.W.’s mother was incarcerated and his grandfather, who had custody, was seriously ill. Hernandez-Perez had a DNA test performed, which confirmed the relationship. He filed a motion to reopen based on hardship to A.W. The BIA denied the motion because Hernandez-Perez had not established that the new evidence was previously unavailable, and the evidence did not establish prima facie eligibility for cancellation of removal. The Sixth Circuit granted a petition for review and remanded, first holding that it had jurisdiction because the motion “raised a new hardship ground not decided in the original decision.” Because the BIA must accept as true Hernandez-Perez’s allegations, there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the genetic evidence could have been obtained in 2015. The BIA erred in determining that the newly submitted evidence was previously available and did not consider all of the facts. View "Hernandez-Perez v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Veloz-Alonso, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. illegally in the 1990s. He was removed in 1997, 1999, and 2008. In 2018, Veloz-Alonso was discovered again and was indicted for illegal reentry. He pleaded guilty and sought release on bail pending sentencing. Under the Bail Reform Act (BRA), a defendant pleading guilty must be detained unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that he is not a flight risk or a danger to the community, 18 U.S.C. 3143(a)(1). The government argued that Veloz-Alonso was subject to an order of removal and an ICE detainer, so that, if released, he would be taken into custody, removed, and unable to attend a sentencing hearing. The court granted the motion subject to electronic monitoring and a property lien on his house. The court ordered the government, under threat of contempt, “to refrain from detaining or deporting the Defendant while he is released pending sentencing.” The Sixth Circuit reversed. While deportable aliens are not per se ineligible for bail, the district court incorrectly inferred that an alien released on bail is ineligible for ICE detention. Reading the BRA’s permissive use of release to supersede the Immigration and Naturalization Act’s mandatory detention would be incongruent with canons of statutory interpretation. To the extent that ICE may fulfill its statutory mandates without impairing the purpose of the BRA, there is no statutory conflict. View "United States v. Veloz-Alonso" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of Poland, is married to a lawful U.S. permanent resident; their son is a U.S. citizen. Petitioner last entered the U.S., to remain, in 1999. In 2016, DHS charged Petitioner under 8 U.S.C 1182(a)(6)(A)(i) as an alien present without being admitted or paroled. Petitioner sought cancellation of removal. An IJ denied Petitioner’s application, finding that Petitioner was a “habitual drunkard” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(f)(1) and unable to prove that he was a person of “good moral character” during the 10-year period before his application, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1). The IJ relied on evidence that Petitioner had been convicted five times for drunk driving and once as a “Disorderly Person” related to being drunk in public. Three of the DUI convictions fell outside the 10-year period. The IJ cited Petitioner’s high blood alcohol levels at the time of his arrests as evidence of Petitioner’s high tolerance, and testimony that he was an alcoholic. Petitioner had also been confined in a penal institution for longer than allowed by 8 U.S.C. 1101(f)(7). The BIA dismissed Petitioner’s appeal. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review. Because Petitioner is a deportable alien with an interest only in discretionary relief, he may not bring a void-for-vagueness challenge to the “habitual drunkard” provision under the Due Process Clause. Rejecting an equal protection claim, the court stated that there is a rational basis for saying that a “habitual drunkard” lacks “good moral character.” View "Tomaszczuk v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Preçetaj, a citizen of Albania, entered the U.S. without admission in 2000 and filed her first asylum application, averring that “criminal gangs constantly threaten [her] family,” and, “though [her] father is not politically involved, he is a target because he is employed by the highway department.” She attested that she was afraid of being kidnapped and placed into forced prostitution. In 2005, an IJ denied Preçetaj’s application and ordered her removal, finding Preçetaj incredible because her claim “devolved over a period of time.” The BIA affirmed; the Sixth Circuit denied review. In 2012, Preçetaj moved to reopen. The BIA denied the motion. The Sixth Circuit denied review. In 2017, Preçetaj filed another motion to reopen, arguing that “country conditions in Albania have changed . . . since a recent Socialist Party victory at the polls,” and that recently, “her family has been threatened with government persecution” and is a “distinct social group.” Preçetaj appended a psychological report about her children; an updated I-589 Statement; and an affidavit from her expert witness, detailing Albania’s political history and internal violence. The Sixth Circuit remanded the BIA’s denial. The BIA failed to demonstrate that it evaluated or analyzed Preçetaj's evidence but summarily concluded that the evidence was insufficient to demonstrate changed country conditions, without providing a sufficiently detailed analysis for its conclusion. View "Precetaj v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Rodriguez-Penton moved from Cuba to the U.S. when he was 15. He is a lawful permanent resident. Rodriguez-Penton was indicted for conspiracy to distribute and possess Oxycodone, retained counsel Butler, and initially cooperated but stopped because he feared for his family’s safety. The government offered Rodriguez-Penton plea deals but he entered an open guilty plea. Rodriguez-Penton’s Cuban citizenship arose during the hearing: the court stated that there was no need to review the civil rights one forfeits by pleading guilty; inquired whether, due to Rodriguez-Penton’s citizenship, there would be an early sentencing; and asked about an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer, but did not advise Rodriguez-Penton that pleading guilty might have adverse immigration consequences and sentenced him to a 121-month prison term. Rodriguez-Penton alleges that he learned of the deportation risk after sentencing, during a meeting with his prison counselor. Rodriguez-Penton appealed, represented by Butler, arguing that his plea was not knowing and voluntary. After hearing testimony from Butler and an interpreter, a magistrate concluded that Butler merely told Rodriguez-Penton that he did not have to worry about deportation. Rodriguez-Penton testified unequivocally that he “would not have gone to trial, even if he could not have negotiated a better plea arrangement.” The district court dismissed his 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The legal standard for ineffective assistance of counsel claims has changed in the context of non-citizens faced with criminal charges. Rodriguez-Penton asserted that his decision-making process would have been different if he had been properly advised; the government has not offered any countervailing evidence that Rodriguez-Penton could not have secured a more favorable plea. View "Rodriguez-Penton v. United States" on Justia Law