Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Peru, seeks review of the BIA's refusal to consider his application for adjustment of status in proceedings limited to consideration of relief related to asylum. Petitioner fraudulently entered the United States under an Italian passport in order to gain the benefits of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The court joined its sister circuits and held that an ineligible alien who fraudulently enters under the VWP is bound by the VWP’s limitations, including its waiver of any challenge to deportation other than asylum. The court also concluded that the lack of a nexus to a protected ground is dispositive of petitioner's asylum and withholding of removal claims. Finally, with respect to the CAT claim, the court found nothing in the record compelling a contrary conclusion to that of the IJ. Accordingly, the court denied the petition. View "Riera-Riera v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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The Supreme Court unanimously held in Holder v. Martinez Gutierrez that the BIA permissibly construed section 240A(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1229b(a), when it concluded that an alien seeking cancellation of removal had to satisfy the years-of-residence requirement on his own, without relying on a parent’s residential history. In this case, petitioner argues that Martinez Gutierrez announced a new rule of law and that, under Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, its holding should not be applied retroactively to him. The court concluded, however, that petitioner's citation of Nunez-Reyes v. Holder in support of his argument for prospective application of Martinez Gutierrez is not persuasive. The court explained that this case is different from Nunez-Reyes where the court is not overruling its own firmly rooted precedent and the record offers no evidence that applying Martinez Gutierrez retroactively will risk the sort of broad injustice that concerned the court in Nunez-Reyes. Therefore, the court concluded that Chevron Oil is not applicable in this case and that Garfias-Rodriguez v. Holder offers a much closer analogy to this case. Garfias-Rodriguez held that in this situation the proper approach to the issue of retroactivity is set forth in Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc. v. FTC. Applying the Montgomery Ward factors, the court held that Martinez Gutierrez should be applied retroactively. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Lemus v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Petitioner, a Mexican citizen, seeks review of the denial of her application for a waiver of inadmissibility and adjustment of her status to that of a lawful permanent resident. At issue is a question of first impression for the federal courts: Has an alien “reentered” the United States for the purpose of reinstating a removal order, 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(5), when she was previously removed at a border-crossing checkpoint? The court held that that when, as here, an alien is issued an expedited removal order at a U.S. border-crossing checkpoint, that alien has entered the United States for the purpose of the reinstatement provision’s “reentry” requirement. The court applied the plain meaning of the provision in question and, under this definition, petitioner entered the country when she left Mexico and came into the sovereign territory of the United States at the San Ysidro border-crossing station. The court noted that its decision—which is limited to the reinstatement provision’s definition of “reentry”—does not disturb the longstanding common-law definition. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Tellez v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Petitioners Mendez-Garcia and Rivera-Baltazar claim in separate applications that removal would result in hardship to their respective sons, who were United States citizens under 21 years of age at the time of the application pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1)(D). While these applications were pending, petitioners’ sons turned 21 and no longer met the statutory definition of “child,” pursuant to section 1101(b)(1). The BIA denied relief. The court concluded that, because the BIA offered a reasonable interpretation of section 1229b, the IJ in each case did not err in considering whether Mendez-Garcia and Rivera-Baltazar had a qualifying relative for purposes of the hardship requirement as of the time of the decision on the application for cancellation of removal; even assuming that Matter of Isidro-Zamorano and the precedents on which it relies are factually distinguishable from the situations here, the BIA’s interpretation of the hardship requirement in section 1229b(b)(1)(D) would nonetheless be binding; the statutory definition of "child" controls because section 1101(b)(1) includes an explicit definition of the term; the decisionmaking process here did not violate Mendez-Garcia’s and Rivera-Baltazar’s due process rights; the court rejected petitioners' argument that their due process rights were violated because they had “settled expectations” that they could apply for and receive cancellation of removal, and these settled expectations were upset by the change in the status of their qualifying relatives; and the court rejected Mendez-Garcia's claim that his due process rights were violated based on the cap on grants of cancellation of removal. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions. View "Mendez-Garcia v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Petitioner, a native of Indonesia, seeks review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's order of removal based on its determination that although petitioner otherwise qualified for withholding of removal, he was barred from relief due to his material support of a terrorist organization. The court agreed with the BIA that petitioner's late asylum filing is not excused because new evidence confirming what petitioner already knew - that moderate Muslims may face violent repression in Indonesia - does not constitute changed circumstances. The court applied the same burden-of-proof framework that it applied in the context of the persecutor bar. The court required a threshold showing of particularized evidence of the bar’s applicability before placing on the applicant the burden to rebut it. The court concluded, here, that the BIA erred in concluding that petitioner was barred from withholding of removal due to his material support of a terrorist organization. In this case, the court determined that the IJ failed to make the requisite factual findings to support his conclusion that the Jemaah Muslim Attaqwa was a terrorist organization. Therefore, the court granted the petition for review, reversed the order of removal, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Budiono v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Appellees are immigrant minors, aged three to seventeen, who have been placed in administrative removal proceedings. The children, suing on behalf of themselves and a class, claim a due process and statutory right to appointed counsel at government expense in immigration proceedings. The government filed this interlocutory appeal, challenging the district court’s determination that it had jurisdiction over the constitutional claims. The minors cross-appealed, disputing, among other issues, the district court’s dismissal of the statutory claims. The court concluded that 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(5) and 1252(b)(9) channel review of all claims, including policies-and-practices challenges, through the petition for review (PFR) process whenever they “arise from” removal proceedings. Because the children’s right-to-counsel claims arise from their removal proceedings, they can only raise those claims through the PFR process. The court also concluded that the minors have not been denied all forms of meaningful judicial review. Accordingly, the district court lacks jurisdiction over the minors' claims. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the statutory claims and reversed the district court's determination that it has jurisdiction over the constitutional claims. View "J.E. F.M. V. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Petitioner seeks review of the BIA's decision dismissing his appeal of the IJ's denial of his application for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b(a). The court applied Medina-Nunez v. Lynch and In re Reza-Murillo, holding that the BIA properly concluded that petitioner was not “admitted in any status” for purposes of cancellation of removal when he was listed as a derivative beneficiary on his mother’s asylum and Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), Title II of Pub.L. 105-100, applications and received work authorization in the United States under 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(c). Accordingly, the court dismissed the petition in part because it lacked jurisdiction over petitioner's contention that he was "admitted in any status" and denied it in part. View "Fuentes v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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The IJ granted petitioner, a citizen of India, voluntary departure with an alternate order of removal to India. The BIA affirmed the denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT relief, but remanded the case to the IJ. Petitioner did not file a petition to this court for review of the BIA order within 30 days of the June 2011 decision. On remand, the IJ gave petitioner the required advisals and again granted voluntary departure with an alternate order of removal to India. Petitioner again appealed the IJ’s decision to the BIA. The BIA dismissed the second appeal, declined to reinstate voluntary departure, and ordered petitioner removed to India pursuant to the IJ’s alternate order. Because the BIA’s June 2011 decision remanding solely for voluntary departure proceedings is a “final order of removal,” the IJ’s order became unreviewable on July 23, 2011 upon expiration of the 30 day period to petition for review to this court. In light of Pinto v. Holder and consistent with the Sixth and Tenth Circuits, the court concluded that it lacks jurisdiction over petitioner's current petition. Accordingly, petitioner remains subject to immediate removal to India and the court dismissed the petition. View "Singh v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, seeks review of the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's decision declining to consider his application for asylum and denial of withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The parties agree that the court must remand to the BIA on petitioner's claims for withholding of removal and protection under CAT in light of intervening circuit precedent. The court held that Congress has not clearly expressed whether 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(5), enacted by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) prevents an individual subject to a reinstated removal order from applying for asylum under 8 U.S.C. 1158. However, the court concluded that the Attorney General’s regulation preventing petitioner from applying for asylum under these circumstances is a reasonable interpretation of the statutory scheme, and is entitled to deference under Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. Accordingly, the court remanded for the BIA to reconsider petitioner's withholding and CAT claims. View "Perez-Guzman v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Petitioner, a native of Nepal, seeks review of the BIA's denial of his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) based on past persecution and fear of future persecution. In this case, the BIA upheld the IJ's adverse credibility finding based on alleged inconsistencies between petitioner's testimony and certain supporting documents, and because petitioner failed to provide additional corroborative evidence, including testimony by his brother. The court held that the inconsistencies identified by the IJ and BIA were either non-existent or procedurally defective because petitioner was not given the chance to explain them. The court noted also that petitioner's in-court testimony was remarkably detailed, consistent with his written declaration, and plausible in light of the U.S. State Department report and other country conditions evidence in the record. The court further concluded that the BIA’s reliance on the absence of testimony from petitioner's brother was error under Ren v. Holder because the IJ did not give petitioner notice and an opportunity to present the corroborative testimony before denying his asylum application. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bhattarai v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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