Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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Moreno, a 49-year-old citizen of Argentina, was admitted to the U.S. under a grant of humanitarian parole in 1980. In 2015, Moreno pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography under Pennsylvania’s “Sexual abuse of children” statute and was sentenced to five years of probation and required to register as a sex offender. DHS initiated removal proceedings in 2016, charging Moreno as removable for having been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). The Immigration Judge ordered him removed; the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected Moreno’s appeal. The Third Circuit denied his petition for review, rejecting Moreno’s argument that, under the categorical approach, the least culpable conduct hypothetically necessary to sustain a conviction under the statute of his conviction is not morally turpitudinous. Pennsylvania’s Pennsylvania’s community consensus, as gauged by case law and legislative enactments, condemns the least culpable conduct punishable under the statute as morally turpitudinous. View "Moreno v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Lewin, a citizen of Jamaica, was admitted to the U.S. in 1987 as a legal permanent resident. In 2000, Lewin was convicted of receiving stolen property in the third degree, N.J. Stat. 2C:20-7(a), and was sentenced to five years of probation. Seven years later, following a finding that he violated the terms of his probation, Lewin was resentenced to four years of imprisonment. Another seven years later, Lewin was charged as removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii)(iii). An Immigration Judge concluded that Lewin is removable for having been convicted of an aggravated felony under section 1101(a)(43)(G), based on his 2000 conviction for receipt of stolen property and later resentencing and that the conviction barred him from relief in the form of cancellation of removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The Third Circuit denied Lewin’s petition for review, applying the categorical approach element-by-element analysis to determine whether Lewin’s New Jersey receiving stolen property conviction “fit” the generic definition of receiving stolen property under section 1101(a)(43)(G). On its face, the New Jersey statute’s language, “knowing that [the property] has been stolen, or believing that it is probably stolen,” refers to a specific defendant’s knowledge or belief, and that element must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Lewin v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Mondragon-Gonzalez was admitted to the U.S. in 2008 on an immigrant visa. In 2015, he pled guilty under Pennsylvania law, which provides: A person commits an offense if he is intentionally in contact with a minor" for specified purposes. He admitted to sending a girl pictures of his penis and was sentenced to a prison term of eight to 23 months. DHS commenced deportation proceedings. An Immigration Judge found that Mondragon-Gonzalez’s conviction fell within 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(E)(i), which provides that “[a]ny alien who at any time after admission is convicted of . . . a crime of child abuse . . . is deportable.” The BIA dismissed his appeal, comparing the elements of the state conviction and its interpretation of a “crime of child abuse” in Matter of Velazquez-Herrera. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review. Given Congress’ intent to make crimes that harm children deportable offenses, the BIA’s interpretation is not “arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute. The Pennsylvania law requires intentional contact with a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual abuse of children; it meets the generic definitional requirement in section 1227(a)(2)(E)(i), that the act constitute maltreatment of a child such that there was a sufficiently high risk of harm to a child’s physical or mental well-being. View "Mondragon-Gonzalez v. Attorney General of the United States" on Justia Law

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Williams, a citizen of Guyana and a lawful U.S. permanent resident, immigrated to this country in 1970, when he was 13 months old. He has no family in Guyana; his relatives are all U.S. citizens. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree forgery under Georgia Code 16-9-1(a). Williams was charged as removable for having been convicted of an aggravated felony, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). The IJ denied relief. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Georgia forgery statute is broader than generic forgery because it criminalizes the use of a fictitious name when signing a document and because the statute does not require a showing of prejudice. The BIA later denied a motion for reconsideration under the Supreme Court’s 2016 "Mathis" decision, arguing that Georgia’s forgery statute is indivisible under Mathis and is overbroad in criminalizing some conduct that does not relate to forgery--false agency endorsements. The Third Circuit denied relief. Employing a “looser categorical approach,” the court considered the “logical connection” between the federal offense the state law and concluded that concerns about the inauthenticity or unauthorized nature of a written instrument establish a logical relationship between common law forgery and false agency endorsement. The intent elements are “directly analogous” and target the “same core criminal conduct.” View "Williams v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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In the 1990s, as a young teenager, Alimbaev, a citizen of Uzbekistan, attended a few services led by Nazarov, an imam who was accused by the Uzbek government of preaching violence and plotting a government takeover. In 2001, Alimbaev came to the U.S. as a visitor, overstayed his visa, and became involved with other supporters of Nazarov. He is currently married, for the second time, to a U.S. citizen, with whom he has two children. He claims to fear persecution and torture if he is removed to Uzbekistan. His application to extend and change the status of his visa contained numerous misrepresentations. There was testimony that Alimbaev relished watching violent terroristic videos, while apparently harboring anti-American sympathies. After a remand, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed an IJ’s determination and ordered Alimbaev removed. The Third Circuit again vacated the denial of his applications for adjustment of status, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and remanded. The BIA misapplied the clear error standard when reversing the IJ’s finding that Alimbaev’s testimony was credible View "Alimbaev v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Mateo, a 21-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic, was admitted to the U.S. in 2010 as a lawful permanent resident. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to the felony charge of criminal conspiracy for an underlying offense Robbery of a Motor Vehicle. A “person commits a felony of the first degree if he steals or takes a motor vehicle from another person in the presence of that person or any other person in lawful possession of the motor vehicle.” Mateo was charged as removable as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A). DHS stated that his conviction constituted an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), and was a “crime of violence” as defined in 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(F), which incorporates 18 U.S.C. 16, which defines “crime of violence” as (a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or (b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense. The Third Circuit vacated Mateo’s removal order, holding that, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States (2015), section 16(b), as incorporated, is unconstitutionally vague. View "Mateo v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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The Board of Immigration Appeals found that Uddin, a citizen of Bangladesh, was ineligible for withholding of removal because he was a member of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP). The Board found that the BNP qualified as a Tier III terrorist organization under the “terrorism bar,” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III). The Third Circuit denied relief with respect to the Board’s ruling dismissing Uddin’s Convention Against Torture claim but remanded his withholding of removal claim. The Board pointed to terrorist acts by BNP members but it did not find that BNP leadership authorized any of the terrorist acts committed by party members. The court joined the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit and the Board in many of its own opinions by holding that unless the agency finds that party leaders authorized terrorist acts committed by its members, an entity such as the BNP cannot be deemed a Tier III terrorist organization. View "Uddin v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Misternovo and his sons (Petitioners) are citizens of Guatemala who first entered the U.S. in 1990, 1998, and 2004, respectively. In 1999, Misternovo filed an application for suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) that listed his sons as derivatives. USCIS denied the NACARA application. In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). The Immigration Judge ruled that Petitioners were removable as charged. Later, in January 2012, Misternovo’s NACARA application received a full merits hearing. An Immigration Judge denied that application, holding that Misternovo had failed to establish that he had timely registered for benefits pursuant to the American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh settlement agreement; an appeal was dismissed by the BIA. More than two years later, Petitioners filed a motion to reopen based on changed country conditions in Guatemala. The BIA denied the motion. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review. The time bar contained in 8 C.F.R. 1003.2(c) applies to motions to reopen based on a request for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture. View "Bamaca-Cifuentes v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Mendoza was born in Honduras in 1989. Mendoza’s father (Martinez) was politically active in the Liberal Party. He routinely spoke out against the National Party. In 2000, a National Party activist assassinated Martinez and wounded Martinez’s wife. In 2002, Mendoza’s uncle was assassinated by a National Party activist. Mendoza was president of the local Liberal Party’s youth division, gave speeches supporting the Party, and worked for the Party during the 2013 national election. He received a message that threatened him with the same fate as his father. Mendoza reported this incident. He was denied a visa to enter the U.S., crossed the border without inspection, and was returned to Honduras. When he was detained after his second entry Mendoza requested asylum or withholding of removal because he feared for his life if returned to Honduras. He was placed into a “withholding only” proceeding. An IJ ordered his removal. The Third Circuit reversed, noting evidence of the politically motivated death threats, inaction on Mendoza’s complaints, a perpetrator and judge who shared a political affiliation in opposition to that of Mendoza, and evidence of a politically corrupt system that failed to reign in politically motivated violence. The Honduran government was unwilling or unable to protect Mendoza; he could not safely return. View "Mendoza-Ordonez v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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Ildefonso-Candelario, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. unlawfully, allegedly in 1996. In 2015, he pled guilty in Pennsylvania state court to a misdemeanor count of obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took Ildefonso-Candelario into custody, charging him with being removable as an alien present without admission or parole, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). At his first hearing, Ildefonso-Candelario stated his intention to seek cancellation of removal. Counsel for ICE suggested that Ildefonso-Candelario’s prior conviction might qualify as a crime involving moral turpitude, which would render him statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1)(C). The Immigration Judge issued an initial holding that the offense was “categorically” a crime involving moral turpitude. ICE added a charge of removability for committing a crime involving moral turpitude. The Immigration Judge then ordered Ildefonso-Candelario removed to Mexico. A single member of the BIA upheld the ruling “[f]or the reasons given by the Immigration Judge.” The Third Circuit remanded to the BIA, holding hold that 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. 5101 is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude. The offense encompasses non-fraudulent as well as fraudulent conduct, such as obstruction by “physical interference or obstacle.” View "Ildefonso-Candelario v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law