Articles Posted in Immigration Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding a final order of removal. At issue was whether the BIA permissibly interpreted the phrase "single scheme of criminal misconduct" under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii). In Matter of Adetiba, 20 I. & N. Dec. 506 (BIA 1992), the BIA affirmed its longstanding interpretation of "single scheme of criminal misconduct" under section 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii): "when an alien has performed an act, which, in and of itself, constitutes a complete, individual, and distinct crime, he is deportable when he again commits such an act, even though one may closely follow the other, be similar in character, and even be part of an overall plan of criminal misconduct." The panel upheld the BIA's interpretation under the principles of Chevron deference and held that the BIA properly applied this interpretation here, and that this application was not impermissibly retroactive. The panel explained that, because the phrase in question operates as an exception to a ground for deportation, the BIA's narrower definition of the exception serves to broaden the application of the removal provision, making petitioner subject to removal when he might not have been under the panel's previous definition. The panel also upheld the BIA's denial of discretionary relief, acknowledging the limitations on judicial review of discretionary decisions. View "Szonyi v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for DHS in an action challenging DHS's authority to expedite construction of border barriers near San Diego and Calexico, California. On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13,767, directing federal agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation's southern border. A focal point of the directive was to immediately construct a physical wall. As a threshold matter, the panel held that it had jurisdiction to consider the "predicate legal question" of whether the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) authorizes the contested projects. On the merits, the panel held that IIRIRA section 102(a)'s broad grant of authority, which was not limited by section 102(b), authorized the construction projects. The panel affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to DHS, holding that the projects were statutorily authorized and therefore not ultra vires. The panel also held that DHS has waived the environmental laws California and environmental groups sought to enforce. Furthermore, the panel lacked jurisdiction to consider any argument challenging the Secretary of DHS's August and September 2017 waivers of applicable environmental laws. View "Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of a final order of removal following the dismissal of petitioner's appeal by the BIA. Petitioner was convicted of communication with a minor for immoral purposes in violation of Revised Code of Washington 9.68A.090, and an IJ found that petitioner's conviction constituted a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years of admission to the United States. Therefore, petitioner was removeable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(i). The panel held that, in assessing the constitutional status of the phrase "crime involving moral turpitude," it was bound by the Supreme Court's decision in Jordan v. De George, 341 U.S. 223 (1951), which held that the phrase was not unconstitutionally vague. The panel also held that the Supreme Court's more recent decisions in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), did not reopen inquiry into the constitutionality of the phrase. Furthermore, petitioner's alternate claim that communicating with a minor for immoral purposes was not a crime of moral turpitude was foreclosed by the panel's decision in Morales v. Gonzales, 478 F.3d 972 (9th Cir. 2007). View "Islas-Veloz v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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A notice to appear that does not specify the time and date of an alien's initial removal hearing vests an immigration judge with jurisdiction over the removal proceedings, so long as a notice of hearing specifying this information is later sent to the alien in a timely manner. The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner relief from removal. In this case, because the charging document satisfied the regulatory requirements, the panel held that the IJ had jurisdiction over the removal proceedings. The panel also noted that petitioner had actual notice of the hearings through multiple follow-up notices that provided the date and time of each hearing. View "Karingithi v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of India and member of the Mann Party, petitioned for review of the BIA's decision denying his claims for asylum, humanitarian asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The panel granted the petition for review of the asylum and withholding of removal claims because the BIA did not conduct a sufficiently individualized analysis of petitioner's ability to relocate within India outside of the state of Punjab. The panel held that the BIA erred in failing to conduct a reasoned analysis with respect to petitioner's situation to determine whether, in light of the specific persons or entities that caused his past persecution, and the nature and extent of that persecution, there are one or more general or specific areas within his country of origin where he has no well-founded fear of persecution, and where it is reasonable for him to relocate pursuant to the factors set forth in 8 C.F.R. 1208.13(b)(3). However, the panel denied the petition for review of petitioner's claim for humanitarian and CAT protection, holding that substantial evidence supported the BIA's decision. View "Singh v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of Nepal, sought review of the BIA's denial of his application for asylum and withholding of removal under the material support terrorist bar. Petitioner fled Nepal because a terrorist organization was torturing and threatening him repeatedly. Shortly before leaving Nepal, he gave the equivalent of $50 US dollars to a member of the terrorist organization, because the terrorist demanded the money and petitioner was fearful of what might happen to him if he did not comply. The Ninth Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider petitioner's duress argument and dismissed the petition in part. The panel denied the petition in part and held that the INA's material support bar contained no implied exception for de minimis aid in the form of funds. Therefore, substantial evidence supported the IJ's finding that petitioner gave material support to a terrorist organization and he was therefore ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal. View "Rayamajhi v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for possessing a firearm while being an alien unlawfully in the United States. The panel assumed without deciding that unlawful aliens in the United States held some degree of rights under the Second Amendment and held that 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5) is constitutional under intermediate scrutiny. The panel held that the government's interests in controlling crime and ensuring public safety are promoted by keeping firearms out of the hands of unlawful aliens—who are subject to removal, are difficult to monitor due to an inherent incentive to falsify information and evade law enforcement, and have already shown they are unable or unwilling to conform their conduct to the laws of this country. View "United States v. Manuel Torres" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed 1) an order granting a petition for panel rehearing, amending the opinion filed on September 14, 2017, which was previously withdrawn, and denying a petition for rehearing en banc; and 2) an amended opinion denying a petition for review of the BIA's decision. In the amended opinion, the panel held that petitioner's conviction for class one misdemeanor domestic violence assault under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1203 and 13-3601 was a crime of domestic violence under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(E) that rendered him removable. The panel held that the statute was divisible and, under the modified categorical approach, there was a sufficient factual basis to support that petitioner intentionally or knowingly caused any physical injury to another person. Furthermore, the domestic relationships enumerated under Arizona's domestic violence provision, Arizona Revised Statutes 3-3601(A), were coextensive with the domestic relationships described in section 1227(a)(2)(E)(i). Therefore, petitioner's misdemeanor domestic violence conviction was a crime of domestic violence under section 1227(a)(2)(E), and he was removeable. View "Cornejo-Villagrana v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Retroactivity analysis under Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc. v. FTC, 691 F.2d 1322 (9th Cir. 1982), is only applicable when an agency consciously overrules or otherwise alters its own rule or regulation, or expressly considers and openly departs from a circuit court decision. The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision finding petitioner removable because he committed two crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT) when he was convicted of felony endangerment under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1201 and facilitation to commit unlawful possession of marijuana for sale. Applying Montgomery Ward to this case, the panel held that there was no change in law raising retroactivity concerns. Therefore, the BIA did not err by applying Leal I, In re Leal, 26 I. & N. Dec. 20 (B.I.A. 2012), to conclude that Arizona endangerment is a CIMT. Finally, the panel rejected petitioner's claim regarding Leal II, claims under In re Silva-Trevino, 24 I. & N. 687 (A.G. 2008), preclusion claims, and an 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii) claim. View "Olivas-Motta v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit joined the Second, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits in holding that the decision of whether to certify a claim under 8 C.F.R. 1003.1(c) is committed to agency discretion. Petitioner, a Pakistani national, sought review of the BIA's decision declining to certify, pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 1003.1(c), his claim for ineffective assistance of counsel. The panel dismissed the appeal of the failure to certify petitioner's claim and held that it did not have jurisdiction to review the IJ and BIA's decision not to certify. The panel denied petitioner's due process claim challenging the same lack of certification, holding that abuse of discretion challenges to discretionary decisions, even if recast as due process claims, do not constitute colorable constitutional claims. View "Idrees v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law