Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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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

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Azcona-Polanco, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident in 1972. In 1994, he was ordered removed based upon a conviction for heroin distribution but never left the country. In 1997, Azcona-Polanco was convicted of conspiracy to violate federal narcotics laws and sentenced to 168 months’ incarceration. He was deported in 2009, after his incarceration, but re-entered illegally and assumed an alias, having purchased a citizen’s birth certificate and Social Security card. Azcona-Polanco was arrested and pled guilty to illegal reentry, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a); (b)(2). His sentencing range was 41-51 months. The Guideline range for a term of supervised release was one to three years, with a maximum of three years, 18 U.S.C. 3583(b)(2). Azcona-Polanco was presumptively exempt from supervised release as a deportable immigrant, U.S.S.G. 5D1.1(c). The Presentence Investigation Report and sentencing memorandum noted that presumption. The court sentenced Azcona-Polanco to 41 months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release, stating, “in case he does illegally reenter the United States he must report in person to Probation.” Azcona-Polanco did not object to the imposition of supervised release. The Third Circuit affirmed. A district court is permitted to impose a term of supervised release on a deportable immigrant “if the court determines it would provide an added measure of deterrence and protection based on the facts and circumstances of a particular case.” View "United States v. Azcona-Polanco" on Justia Law

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Members of the notorious Salvadoran gang, MS13, shot Serrano-Alberto's brother, leaving him paralyzed; extorted Serrano-Alberto , an acclaimed professional soccer player; and, when he ceased to pay, shot Serrano-Alberto, his nephew, and a neighbor, killing the neighbor and leaving the others in serious condition. Police refused to take a report because Serrano-Alberto did not know the names of the shooters. Fearing reprisal, Serrano-Alberto twice attempted to flee but was returned by Mexican authorities. In 2009-2012, Serrano-Alberto was imprisoned in El Salvador on extortion charges; he was ultimately absolved. Gang members continued to search for him. They shot another his brothers for refusing to divulge Serrano-Alberto’s whereabouts. In 2012, Serrano-Alberto escaped harm in a drive-by shooting by diving under a car. Serrano-Alberto moved multiple times. His mother warned that gang members were continuing to pursue him. In 2014, Serrano-Alberto observed apparent gang members in his new neighborhood and fled to the U.S.He was apprehended and applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. At his hearing, the IJ was “confrontational, dismissive, and hostile, interrupting and belittling Serrano-Alberto’s testimony, time and again cutting off his answers to questions, and nitpicking immaterial inconsistencies.” She ordered removal. The BIA denied relief. The Third Circuit vacated and urged reassignment on remand. The Fifth Amendment protects the liberty of all persons within U.S. borders, including aliens in immigration proceedings who are entitled to a meaningful opportunity to be heard. View "Serrano-Alberto v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law