Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

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The First Circuit granted a petition for review of a ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that affirmed the final order of removal entered against Petitioner pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1229-1229a and vacated the BIA's ruling,Petitioner conceded removability but sought relief from removal based on asylum and withholding of removal, as well as the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The immigration judge (IJ) denied the applications, and the BIA affirmed. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's ruling in part, holding (1) Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his assertion of bias; and (2) because the BIA upheld an adverse credibility determination that the IJ reached in part based on an inconsistency in Petitioner's story that simply was not an inconsistency, the BIA's ruling affirming the IJ's denial of that claim must be vacated. View "Pujols v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitioned for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) denying his request to administratively close his removal proceedings. An immigration judge ordered Petitioner removed from the United States after he admitted that he had committed acts that disqualified him from obtaining cancellation of removal: He twice “encouraged” his eldest son to enter the United States illegally. Petitioner now argues that the “encouraged” component of the alien-smuggling statute, 8 U.S.C. Section 1182(a)(6)(E)(i), is unconstitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment, that it is unconstitutionally vague, and that it violates the equal-protection component of the Due Process Clause. He also contends that the agency abused its discretion in denying his motion for administrative closure.   The Ninth Circuit denied his petition. The court rejected Petitioner’s contention that its interpretation creates overlap with the other verbs in the section, explaining that, because no interpretation could avoid excess language here, the canon against superfluity had limited force. Further, the court explained that, even if it had doubt about its interpretation, the canon of constitutional avoidance would militate in its favor. Next, the court rejected Petitioner’s argument that section 1182(a)(6)(E)(i) is unconstitutionally vague. The court concluded that his concession that he “encouraged” his son’s unlawful entry foreclosed his facial challenge because an individual who has engaged in conduct that is clearly covered by a statute cannot complain of vagueness as applied to others. Finally, the court held that the agency did not abuse its discretion in denying administrative closure, explaining that the agency considered the applicable factors and explained its conclusions. View "J. MARQUEZ-REYES V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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Cabrera-Ruiz, a Mexican national, has a long history of entries into the U.S., deportations after convictions for crimes of varying severity, and subsequent reentries. In 2018, Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested Cabrera-Ruiz for a suspected drug trafficking offense. Cabrera-Ruiz pleaded guilty to illegal reentry instead and received a time-served sentence. Facing deportation. Cabrera-Ruiz applied for deferral of removal pursuant to the Convention Against Torture.The immigration judge denied Cabrera-Ruiz relief, relying heavily on an adverse credibility determination. The BIA dismissed Cabrera-Ruiz’s appeal. The Seventh Circuit denied his petition for review. Substantial evidence supports the IJ’s and the BIA’s decisions. The court noted that Cabrera-Ruiz made four inconsistent statements regarding the drugs, his experiences with Mexican cartels, and his fear of return and once told an Asylum Officer that he did not fear persecution or torture. Arrested for drugs but sentenced only for an immigration offense, Cabrera-Ruiz claims to fear being perceived as a “snitch” and that he has gang tattoos that would draw unwanted cartel and police attention throughout Mexico but Cabrera-Ruiz had previously lived in Mexico with those tattoos. In addition, Cabrera-Ruiz completed an ICE interview without mentioning 27 days of torture that he subsequently claimed. View "Cabrera-Ruiz v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Petitioner filed an application for naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). His application was denied when USCIS determined that he was ineligible for naturalization. Petitioner filed an administrative appeal, and in response, the agency sent him a notice to appear at a hearing pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Section 1447(a) After Petitioner failed to appear, the agency affirmed the denial of his application. Petitioner brought an action seeking review alleging, among other things, that the agency failed to follow its own procedures in denying his application. The district court held that, by not attending the hearing, Petitioner failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by 8 U.S.C. Section 1421(c). Because the district court held the exhaustion requirement to be jurisdictional, the district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.   The Second Circuit held that the district court erred when it treated 8 U.S.C. Section 1421(c) as a jurisdictional requirement. However, the court held that Petitioner’s claim may not proceed because the government properly raised Petitioner’s failure to attend the hearing as a failure to exhaust. Thus, Section 1421(c)’s exhaustion requirement must be enforced. Petitioner’s noncompliance with the exhaustion requirement means that he failed to state a claim, and thus the court affirmed the judgment of the district court on that ground. View "Donnelly v. CARRP" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was publicly marked as a terrorist and threatened with torture over social media by Nicaraguan government operatives, repeatedly verbally threatened with death by supporters of the Ortega regime and received a second death threat— this time during a direct confrontation—after he was seriously beaten by six members of the Sandinista Youth. The Ninth Circuit explained that the threats were credible given the history and context of the Ortega regime’s killing and torture of its political opponents.   The Ninth Circuit (1) granted Petitioner’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“Board”) decision affirming an immigration judge’s denial of asylum and related relief, and remanded, holding that the record compelled a finding that Petitioner’s past experiences constituted persecution and that the Board erred in its analysis of other issues; and (2) dismissed as moot Petitioner’s petition for review of the Board’s denial of his motion to reopen   The court held that the record compelled the conclusion that Petitioner’s experiences in Nicaragua constituted persecution. The court explained that the court has consistently recognized that being forced to flee from one’s home in the face of an immediate threat of severe physical violence or death is squarely encompassed within the rubric of persecution. Here, Petitioner was forced to flee three separate times after being personally targeted with violence and threatened with death for his political views. Further,the court wrote that an applicant may suffer persecution based on the cumulative effect of several incidents, even if no single incident rises to the level of persecution. View "MARIO FLORES MOLINA V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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The named plaintiffs, aliens who were detained under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6) after reentering the United States illegally, filed a putative class action, alleging that aliens detained under section 1231(a)(6) are entitled to bond hearings after six months’ detention. The district court certified a class of similarly situated plaintiffs and enjoined the government from detaining the class members under section 1231(a)(6) for more than 180 days without providing each a bond hearing. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.The Supreme Court reversed. INA section 1252(f )(1) deprived the district courts of jurisdiction to entertain aliens’ requests for class-wide injunctive relief. Section 1252(f )(1) generally strips lower courts of jurisdiction or authority to “enjoin or restrain the operation of ” certain INA provisions. Section 1252(f )(1)’s one exception allows lower courts to “enjoin or restrain the operation of ” the relevant statutory provisions “with respect to the application of such provisions to an individual alien against whom proceedings under such part have been initiated.” Here, both district courts entered injunctions that “enjoin or restrain the operation” of section 1231(a)(6) because they require officials to take actions that (in the government’s view) are not required by 1231(a)(6) and to refrain from actions that are allowed; the injunctions do not fall within the exception for individualized relief. Section 1252(f )(1) refers to “an individual,” not “individuals.” View "Garland v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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Arteaga-Martinez, a citizen of Mexico, was removed and reentered the U.S. His earlier removal order was reinstated and he was detained under 8 U.S.C. 1231(a). Arteaga-Martinez applied for withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture. An asylum officer determined he had established a reasonable fear of persecution or torture if returned to Mexico. DHS referred him for withholding-only proceedings before an immigration judge. After being detained for four months, Arteaga-Martinez filed a habeas corpus petition, challenging his continued detention without a bond hearing. The government conceded that Arteaga-Martinez would be entitled to a bond hearing after six months of detention based on circuit precedent. The district court ordered a bond hearing. The Third Circuit affirmed. At the bond hearing, the Immigration Judge authorized his release pending resolution of his application for withholding of removal.The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Section 1231(a)(6) does not require the government to provide noncitizens, detained for six months, with bond hearings in which the government bears the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that a noncitizen poses a flight risk or a danger to the community. Section 1231(a)(6) “does not permit indefinite detention” but “limits an alien’s post-removal-period detention to a period reasonably necessary to bring about that alien’s removal from the United States”; it allows the government to provide bond hearings but does not require them. The Court remanded for consideration of Arteaga-Martinez’s alternative theory. View "Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez" on Justia Law

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Defendant was sentenced to 36 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release after pleading guilty to illegal reentry. As a special condition of release, the district court required that Defendant be turned over to immigration authorities upon his release and that he be deported to Mexico. If immigration authorities were unwilling to take Defendant, the court required he self-deport.Defendant challenged the special condition of release requiring he self-deport. The government conceded that the district court committed plain error. The Fifth Circuit remanded for entry of a new written judgment without the special condition requiring Defendant to depart the United States. View "USA v. Badillo" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was found removable on the ground that his Oregon first-degree burglary conviction was a burglary aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43)(G). Petitioner argued that the Oregon statute is not a categorical match with generic burglary because it is indivisible and overbroad.   Denying in part and granting in part Petitioner’s petition for review of a decision of the BIA, the court held that: (1) first-degree burglary of a dwelling under Oregon Revised Statutes section 164.225 is an aggravated felony; and (2) the BIA misapplied a presumption in determining that Petitioner’s conviction was a particularly serious crime barring withholding of removal. Applying the categorical approach, the court first addressed United States v. Cisneros, 826 F.3d 1190 (9th Cir. 2016), and expressly recognized that Cisneros had been overruled.   As to withholding of removal, the BIA applied a “presumption” that Petitioner’s conviction was a particularly serious crime barring that relief, and required him to “rebut” this presumption. The court explained that for offenses that are not defined by statute as “per se” particularly serious crimes, the BIA has established a multi-factor test to determine on a case-by-case basis whether a crime is particularly serious and that this court has rejected the view that there is any subset of such cases that is exempt from this multi-factor analysis based solely on the elements of the offense. Because the BIA committed an error of law in failing to apply the correct legal standards, the court remanded to the BIA to consider Petitioner’s application for withholding of removal under the correct standards. View "DIEGO MENDOZA-GARCIA V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted in Texas state court of the felony offense of injury to a child, in violation of Texas Penal Code Section 22.04(a)(3). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) served Petitioner with a Notice to Appear (NTA), charging him with removability under 8 U.S.C. Section 1227(a)(2)(E)(i), as an alien who, at any time after admission, was convicted of a crime of child abuse. After a hearing, the IJ denied Petitioner’s request for cancellation of removal, ordered him removed, and denied his request for voluntary departure. The BIA dismissed Petitioner’s appeal, denied his requests for cancellation of removal or voluntary departure, and ordered his removal. Petitioner then submitted a petition for review to the Fifth Circuit.   The Fifth Circuit denied in part Petitioner’s petition. Petitioner’s motion to terminate “squarely presented” the issue of the statute’s divisibility. Thus, the court held that the BIA did not err in rejecting Petitioner’s claim that the IJ impermissibly ruled on the divisibility issue. Further, based on Section 22.04(a)’s text, relevant state court cases, Texas’ pattern jury instructions, and the record of prior conviction itself, the court held that Section 22.04(a) is divisible as to victim class. Because the statute is divisible, the court applied the modified categorical approach to see which offense, under Section 22.04(a), is the crime of conviction. In so doing, the court looked to Petitioner’s indictment and the judicial confession entered on his guilty plea. Reviewing those documents, it is apparent that Petitioner was charged with, and pleaded guilty to, causing bodily injury to a child. View "Monsonyem v. Garland" on Justia Law