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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's order denying asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner sought relief after he and his family were the victims of threats, home invasions, beatings, and killings at the hands of Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional guerillas. The panel held that petitioner was eligible for asylum and entitled to withholding of removal. In this case, the record compelled a finding of past persecution, and substantial evidence did not support the agency's determination that the government successfully rebutted the presumption of future persecution. The panel applied the pre-REAL ID Act standards and held that the harm petitioner suffered had a nexus to a protected ground because the guerillas were motivated by his family's government and military service. The panel also held that the BIA erred as a matter of law in denying petitioner's application for CAT relief. The panel remanded for reconsideration of the CAT claim. View "Quiroz Parada v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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DHS detained Ramirez, a citizen of Guatemala, in 2014, after she illegally entered the U.S. Ramirez stated she feared a neighbor would kill her if she returned to Guatemala because he frequently asked her to have sex, and she refused; she reported this neighbor to the police after he attempted to rape another woman, but the police did not arrest him. Ramirez said this neighbor sent men to confront her at knifepoint, demanding money and threatening to kill her. Ramirez submitted her asylum application (completed with the help of an attorney) and represented herself pro se. The IJ denied the application, stating Ramirez feared a “personal and a potential criminal act,” not “persecution” or “torture” necessary for securing asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture relief. The written decision concluded that Ramirez failed to demonstrate either past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The decision repeatedly, erroneously, referred to Mexico and its caption charged Ramirez under the wrong statutory section. The BIA found “harmless error.” Ramirez argued the IJ’s hearing conduct violated procedural due process, failing to provide individualized consideration. The Eighth Circuit denied relief. The IJ gave Ramirez declined repeated opportunities to expound on her claim; on appeal, Ramirez failed to explain the evidence she might have offered had the IJ asked further questions. The BIA's order disavowed any errors and exercised the requisite independent judgment supported by substantial evidence. View "Ramirez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Alvarenga-Flores, apprehended crossing the U.S. border, gave a “credible fear” interview while he was detained, stating that he was afraid to return to El Salvador, where he is a citizen, because after witnessing a friend's murder, he received threats from the gang members responsible. Alvarenga applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ denied all of relief based on an adverse credibility finding; he also found that Alvarenga’s asylum application was time-barred. The IJ cited inconsistencies in Alvarenga’s testimony about his escapes from gang members who attacked him in a taxi and from gang members who approached him on a bus. Alvarenga had submitted affidavits from his parents; both were written in English, although neither parent speaks English. Alvarenga’s parents lacked firsthand knowledge of the events and “restate[d] things that they can only have heard from [Alvarenga].” The IJ further noted that Alvarenga’s parents could have testified telephonically but did not. The BIA found the discrepancies sufficient to sustain an adverse credibility finding, 8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(4)(C). The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Substantial evidence supports the decisions of the immigration judge and the Board, and the record does not compel a contrary conclusion. View "Alvarenga-Flores v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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California's receipt of stolen property offense is a categorical match for the generic federal crime of receipt of stolen property. The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for attempting to reenter the United States after being deported, holding that defendant's prior California conviction for receipt of stolen property was a felony theft offense that was an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The panel also held that the district court properly denied defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment and rejected defendant's remaining claims. View "United States v. Flores" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the opinion of the Board of Immigration Appeal (BIA) affirming an Immigration Judge’s (IJ) denial of Petitioner’s application seeking asylum relief, withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and protection pursuant to the Convention Against Torture Act (CAT) and ordering her removed, holding that there was no merit to Petitioner’s arguments before this Court. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the BIA erred in affirming the IJ’s finding that she did not suffer past persecution on account of being a member of a protected class, she did not have a well-founded fear of future persecution, and she was not entitled to protection under the CAT. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA’s decision was well supported, and review of the record did not compel a different outcome. View "Aguilar-de Guillen v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision finding petitioner ineligible for cancellation of removal and voluntary departure. The panel held that petitioner's convictions for indecent exposure under Wash. Rev. Code 9A.88.010(1) and under Wash. Rev. Code 9A.88.010(2)(b) are not categorically crimes involving moral turpitude. Furthermore, both statutes were indivisible and thus the modified categorical approach was inapplicable. In the absence of a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude, petitioner was eligible to apply for cancellation of removal and voluntary departure. The panel remanded for the BIA to consider anew petitioner's request for cancellation of removal and voluntary departure. View "Barrera-Lima v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision finding petitioner ineligible for cancellation of removal. Under the plain text of the stop-time rule, the panel held that petitioner was not rendered inadmissible by his possession of cocaine because, as a lawful permanent resident, he was not subject to the grounds of inadmissibility. Therefore, petitioner was eligible to apply for cancellation of removal. The panel acknowledged that its conclusion parted ways with the Fifth Circuit in Calix v. Lynch, 784 F.3d 1000 (5th Cir. 2015). The panel remanded for the BIA to consider petitioner's application of cancellation of removal on the merits. View "Vu Minh Nguyen v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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A conviction for assault with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm or by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury under California Penal Code 245(a)(1), as it was written prior to its amendment in 2011, qualifies as a conviction for a crime of violence within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 16(a). The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for illegal reentry and rejected his collateral attacks on his removal. The panel held that defendant's prior California conviction under section 245(a)(1) required an intentional use of force and was thus a crime of violence. The panel also held that, although the failure to inform defendant that his eligibility for relief could serve as a basis to collaterally attack a removal order, it was not plausible that he would have been granted relief at the time of his removal in this case. View "United States v. Vasquez-Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's order of deportation after petitioner was convicted of possession for sale of cocaine salt. The panel held that petitioner was deportable as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii); petitioner's conviction remained a valid ground of deportation despite its expungement under California Penal Code 1203.4; petitioner was not eligible for waiver of deportation under section 212(c); and the BIA did not err in denying deferral of deportation under the Convention Against Torture. View "Lopez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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In 2015, tattooed members of the Mara 18 gang, having previously abducted his brother, held a gun to W.G.A.’s head and threatened to kill him. With its rival, MS‐13, Mara 18 terrorizes the Salvadoran population and government. The gangs have orchestrated labor strikes and plotted to bomb government buildings. They brag about influencing elections and controlling political campaigns. They extort millions of dollars from businesses and are largely responsible for El Salvador’s homicide rate. Days after the threat, W.G.A. fled to the U.S. DHS apprehended him and began removal proceedings. W.G.A. applied for asylum, statutory withholding of removal, and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, arguing that the gang would kill him if he returned to El Salvador. The IJ denied his applications. The BIA dismissed an appeal. The Seventh Circuit granted W.G.A.’s petition for review and remanded. W.G.A. established persecution based on his membership in a qualifying social group--family members of tattooed former Salvadoran gang members. Country reports and news articles throughout the record demonstrate widespread recognition that Salvadoran gangs target families to enforce their orders and discourage defection. The IJ and BIA did not address the extensive record, describing how corruption, judges’ refusal to protect witness anonymity, and the police’s fear of reprisal, allow gangs to act with impunity. View "W.G.A. v. Sessions" on Justia Law