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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction after he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of identification documents and was sentenced to time served in prison. Defendant alleged that defense counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to adequately warn him about the immigration consequences of his guilty plea. The court held that the record was sufficient to determine that the ineffective assistance claim was without merit where defense counsel and the district court complied with Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 374 (2010). Furthermore, defendant already knew from his ICE custody and prior dealings with immigration officials that deportation was likely. View "United States v. Ramirez-Jimenez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review challenging the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) denial of his motion to reconsider its order refusing to open his case, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Petitioner’s motion to reconsider. Petitioner, a citizen of Ghana who unlawfully entered the United States, sought cancellation of removal based on hardship to his U.S.-citizen daughter and voluntary departure. The immigration judge (IJ) denied Petitioner’s request for cancellation of removal and also denied voluntary departure. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s denial of voluntary departure. Thereafter, the BIA denied Petitioner’s motion to reopen the proceedings based on alleged ineffective assistance of counsel and then denied Petitioner’s motion to reconsider. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying Petitioner’s motion to reconsider on the ground that Petitioner failed to identify a specific legal or factual error in the BIA’s original adjudication of his motion to reopen. View "Kuffour v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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In 1991, Molina-Avila, born in Guatemala and then 11 years old, came to the U.S. with his sister and brother. He became a legal permanent resident the same year. As a young adult, he was convicted of three drug offenses under Illinois law. DHS initiated removal proceedings. Molina-Avila requested deferral of removal because he feared torture by Guatemalan gangs. His brother had been deported to Guatemala in 1998 and experienced violent harassment by a Guatemalan gang, the Mara 18. Molina-Avila believes the harassment occurred because his brother was perceived as a wealthy former-American. The IJ and BIA denied relief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision as supported by substantial evidence. Molina-Avila relied on generalized evidence in arguing his tattoos and perceived wealth would inevitably result in torture and the record did not compel the conclusion that the police force is unwilling or unable to investigate gang violence nor did it compel the conclusion that safe relocation within Guatemala would be impossible. View "Avila v. Sessions" 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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The Fifth Circuit held that, because 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) does not overcome the presumption against retroactivity, applying it to petitioner was impermissibly retroactive. The court granted the petition for review of the BIA's order finding petitioner inadmissible based on his conviction for possessing AB-CHMINACA in violation of Louisiana Revised Statutes 40.966(C). After petitioner's arrest, but before his conviction, AB-CHMINACA was added to the federal schedules of controlled substances. The court reasoned that, for purposes of retroactivity analysis, it is the timing of the defendant's conduct, not of his conviction, that controls. In this case, when petitioner possessed AB-CHMINACA, he had no notice that such a crime carried the consequence of inadmissibility. View "Lopez Ventura v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2241, holding that, although Appellant has been detained pending reveal proceedings since April 2016, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment did not entitle Appellant to a new bond hearing at which the government would bear the burden of justifying his continued detention. Appellant entered the United States on a tourist visa, which he overstayed. A year later, an Interpol "Red Notice" requested by Russian identified Appellant as a fugitive wanted for prosecution on criminal fraud charges. On April 22, 2016, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained Appellant under 8 U.S.C. 1226(a) and initiated removal proceedings, which are still pending in an immigration court. Appellant filed this action alleging that his continued detention deprived him of due process unless the government could show clear and convincing evidence of risk of flight or danger to the community. The district court dismissed the petition. The Third Circuit affirmed. The dissent argued that where the Russian government has been employing Interpol Red Notices to pursue and harass opponents of the Russian regime and where Appellant had no criminal record anywhere, Appellant was entitled to a new hearing to review the finding of “danger to the community.” View "Borbot v. Warden Hudson County Correctio" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit held that New Jersey’s drug-trafficking law of which Petitioner was convicted is coextensive with its federal counterpart and that on the date of Petitioner’s conviction, New Jersey’s list of drugs was no broader than the federal list, making Petitioner removable. Petitioner was convicted of four drug-related crimes under New Jersey law. For the latter three counts, the jury was instructed that it could convict Petitioner for attempting to transfer cocaine or to aid another in distributing cocaine. Thereafter, Petitioner was charged as removable. The government claimed (1) Petitioner’s New Jersey drug-distribution convictions under N.J. Stat. Ann. 2C:35-5(a)(1)&(b)(1) match the federal Controlled Substances Act’s ban on drug trafficking, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), making Petitioner removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) for having been convicted of an aggravated felony; and (2) Petitioner’s convictions related to federally controlled substances, and therefore, Petitioner was removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i) for having been convicted of a controlled-substance offense. The immigration judge sustained the charges. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The Third Circuit held that Petitioner was removable and ineligible for cancellation of removal because (1) New Jersey attempt law is coextensive with federal law, and (2) on the date of his conviction, Petitioner was convicted of a controlled-substance offense that is an aggravated felony. View "Martinez v. Attorney General, United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal of the IJ's denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court applied the deferential evidence standard and held that the harm petitioner suffered at the hands of a local politician was not severe enough to constitute past persecution. Furthermore, petitioner failed to establish a well-founded fear of future persecution where he could relocate to another part of Ecuador. View "Molina-Cabrera 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

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After noncitizen minors entered the United States unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, they were placed in the custody of the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). ORR subsequently released plaintiffs to a parent or sponsor when they concluded that each minor was not dangerous to himself or the community, and was not a flight risk. In 2017, the minors were arrested because of alleged gang membership and transferred to secure juvenile detention facilities. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction, requiring a prompt hearing before a neutral decisionmaker at which the minors could contest the basis for their rearrest. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the minors were entitled to some sort of due process hearing and ordering the government, pendente lite, to provide members of the minor class with the procedural protections set forth in its order. In this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the preliminary injunction, and the preliminary injunction was entirely consistent with the mandate in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 that ORR place unaccompanied children in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child. View "Saravia v. Sessions" on Justia Law