Articles Posted in Immigration Law

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In 2012, K.H., a Guatemalan citizen, then seven years old, was kidnapped, beaten, and raped by gang members. The Guatemalan police caught K.H.’s persecutors, who were tried, convicted, and sentenced. The government provided K.H. with psychological treatment, temporarily placed her in a child refuge center, helped her with a visa application, and required that K.H. and her grandmother relocate. Shortly thereafter, while her visa application was pending, K.H. fled to the United States, where her mother was living. K.H. was apprehended by immigration authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the denial of her applications for asylum and humanitarian asylum because she failed to demonstrate that the Guatemalan government was unwilling or unable to control her persecutors and protect her. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, concluding that substantial evidence supported the BIA’s determination. The court noted the government’s timely intervention and the arrests, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of K.H.’s persecutors, as well as the steps taken by the to protect K.H. K.H. did not suffer past persecution, so her claim for humanitarian asylum must fail. View "K. H. v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Cruz, a native of El Salvador, grew up in a neighborhood dominated by the 18th Street gang. A rival gang, MS-13, sought to recruit Cruz and his friends as “spies” to relay information about 18th Street activities. After they refused, MS-13 threatened and assaulted them. MS-13 members murdered Cruz’s friend. Later that week, one of them told Cruz “if [he] was just as stupid as Brian, then the same thing would happen.” Cruz fled El Salvador and was apprehended near Hidalgo, Texas. In his deportation proceeding, Cruz sought asylum based on his fear of gang violence if he returned home. While his asylum application was pending, MS-13 killed one of Cruz’s friend, while 18th Street killed another. Both gangs extorted protection money from Cruz’s mother. When she missed a payment, 18th Street members broke into her house, beat her, and threatened to rape Cruz’s sister. While the Immigration Judge found Cruz’s testimony credible, she denied Cruz’s asylum application because Cruz failed to establish that he faced this persecution “on account of” a protected ground (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)(A)). The BIA affirmed. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review. Cruz did not establish a connection between his “well-founded fear of persecution” and his membership in a particular social group. View "Cruz-Guzman v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Asgari came to the U.S. for education, earning a doctorate in 1997. He returned to Iran and became a professor at Sharif University. His work involves transmission electron microscopy. Asgari traveled to the U.S. in 2011, stating on his visa application that he planned to visit New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles. He traveled to Cleveland to see an Iranian-American friend at Case Western’s Swagelok Center. They began collaborating. Asgari returned to Iran and obtained another visa for “temp[orary] business[/]pleasure,” identifying his destination as his son’s New York address. He applied for a job at Swagelok. The FBI investigated. The Center’s director stated that Asgari was on a sabbatical from Sharif University; that the Center conducted Navy-funded research; and that an opening had emerged on the project. Agent Boggs obtained a warrant to search Asgari’s personal email account for evidence that Asgari made materially false statements in his visa application and that Asgari violated the prohibition on exporting “any goods, technology, or services to Iran.” Based on information uncovered from that 2013 search, the government obtained another warrant to search Asgari’s subsequent emails. Indicted on 13 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud, and visa fraud, Asgari successfully moved to suppress the evidence. The Sixth Circuit reversed, applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The affidavit was not “so skimpy, so conclusory, that anyone ... would necessarily have known it failed to demonstrate probable cause.” The sanctions on Iran are broad; probable cause is a lenient standard. View "United States v. Asgari" on Justia Law

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Mendoza-Garcia, then 16, came to the U.S. from Guatemala in 2004. In 2011 removal proceedings, he sought asylum and withholding of removal, stating that he was afraid to return to Guatemala because his hometown had been torn apart by violence after a mayoral election won through fraud. His merits hearing was scheduled for November 2017. One week before that hearing, his attorney moved to withdraw, stating that he told Mendoza-Garcia six week earlier about an outstanding obligation related to their 2011 representation agreement. Mendoza-Garcia was unable to pay and requested more time. The IJ informed him that financial difficulty would not justify a continuance. When asked a third time if he objected to his attorney’s withdrawal, Mendoza-Garcia said no. The IJ granted the motion; the attorney left. The hearing proceeded, with interpreters translating from English to Spanish and from Spanish to Aguacateco, Mendoza-Garcia’s indigenous language. Mendoza-Garcia stated, “I don’t fear any person in particular or a group, per se,” but “they made us" "get involved with a group to protect the village,” giving him a gun. He stated that he had been expelled from the village and had “no idea what might happen.” The IJ again refused a continuance. The BIA and Sixth Circuit upheld the denial of relief. Denying a continuance was not irrational, discriminatory, or a departure from established policies. This type of procedural due process claim requires a showing of prejudice; Mendoza-Garcia could not show that his “claims could have supported a different outcome.” View "Mendoza-Garcia v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Santos-Santos, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without inspection in 1999. In 2000, he and his wife attempted to enter Canada but were denied admission and directed back to Port Huron, where they were questioned. Both admitted to entering the U.S. illegally. The Immigration and Naturalization Service personally served Santos-Santos with a notice to appear (NTA), charging him with inadmissibility and ordering him to appear for a hearing in Detroit. The NTA listed his Chicago address and indicated that the hearing date and time were “to be determined.” On May 24, the Detroit immigration court mailed a Notice of Hearing for October 20, to the Chicago address. Santos-Santos failed to appear and was ordered removed in absentia. The order was mailed to the same address. Santos-Santos claims he did not receive that order. In 2018, Santos-Santos moved to reopen the in absentia order, stating he did not receive any notices after the NTA. The BIA upheld the denial of the motion, finding no evidence that the mailings were returned to the immigration court; Santos-Santos did not argue that the notice was addressed incorrectly or that he was having mail delivery problems or report any efforts to determine the status of his proceedings during 17 years before his motion. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review. Santos-Santos failed to rebut the presumption of delivery. View "Santos-Santos v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Molina, born in El Salvador, grew up in an area where the “18th Street” gang was active. The gang attempted to recruit Molina. Molina claims that his uncle was murdered in 2008 for refusing to join the gang. Molina moved to San Vicente, which was in MS-13 gang territory. MS-13 pressured Molina to join and beat him up several times when he refused. In 2012, at age 15, Molina illegally entered the United States. He was granted permanent resident status in 2014 as a Special Immigrant Juvenile, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J), 1255(h). In March 2016, Molina pled guilty to assault with intent to rob, unarmed. Removal proceedings (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(i)) were initiated, alleging that Molina had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) within five years of his admission for which a sentence of at least one year could be imposed. Molina’s conviction was vacated because he did not receive the constitutionally-required advice about the immigration consequences of his plea. He then pled guilty to felonious assault. The IJ denied Molina’s application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. The BIA sustained the CIMT removal charge. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Molina reasonably relied on Sixth Circuit precedent holding that the Michigan felonious assault statute is not categorically a CIMT. Molina’s applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT are moot. View "Hernandez v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, Iraqi nationals, were ordered removed years ago because of criminal offenses they committed in the U.S. Iraq refused to repatriate them, so Petitioners remained under orders of supervision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In 2017, Iraq began to cooperate and removal of Iraqi nationals resumed. In April 2017 ICE conducted a removal by charter flight to Iraq, scheduling a second charter for June and arresting more than 200 Iraqi nationals. Iraq declined to issue requisite travel documents and would accept only Iraqi nationals who had unexpired passports and were returning on commercial flights. Petitioners filed a putative class action habeas petition on behalf of all Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal, who have been, or will be, arrested and detained as a result of Iraq’s recent decision,” seeking a TRO or stay of removal, pending arguments on allegedly changed country conditions. Under 8 U.S.C. 1252(g), immigration courts hold exclusive jurisdiction over removal proceedings. The district court stayed the final removal orders and concluded that it had jurisdiction to hear Petitioners’ claims as an as-applied constitutional violation of the Suspension Clause. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court lacked the jurisdiction. Rejecting Petitioners’ argument the petition-for-review process is constitutionally inadequate as an alternative to habeas review, the court noted that Petitioners had years to file motions to reopen and the administrative scheme provides multiple avenues to stay removal while pursuing relief. The court was not merely interpreting a statute: it “created out of thin air a requirement for bond hearings that does not exist in the statute; and adopted new standards that the government must meet.” View "Hamama v. Adducci" on Justia Law

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Hosseini fled Iran and obtained asylum in the U.S. in 1999. He later unsuccessfully applied to adjust his legal status to become a lawful permanent resident. The government concluded that Hosseini provided material support to Iranian terrorist organizations, rendering him inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI)(dd), by copying and distribution of flyers from organizations, including Mujahadin-e Khalq (MeK) and Fadain-e Khalq (FeK). Hosseini insists that the flyers alerted Iranians to the new regime’s human rights abuses, including its crackdown on women, students, workers, and civil dissidents. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that determination. Hosseini did not demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he “did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the organization was a terrorist organization.” The government described a 1981 terrorist attack, during which MeK detonated bombs in the Islamic Republic party’s head office that killed “some seventy high-ranking Iranian officials. Given Hosseini’s acknowledgment that he “eagerly sought out information about various political viewpoints” after the 1979 revolution, it seems implausible that he was unaware of this attack and the organization that perpetrated it. While Hosseini left MeK voluntarily and did not engage in violent terrorism, Hosseini was not a minor during his six-year involvement with the groups; he admitted hearing rumors that MeK was engaged in terrorist activity. His support was relevant in introducing Iranians to the organizations and significant: the nonviolent flyers gave legitimacy to MeK and FeK although they were engaged in terrorism. View "Hosseini v. Nielsen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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In 2003, Jasso obtained lawful U.S. permanent resident status. More than a decade later, he pled guilty to first-degree home invasion in Michigan. DHS began removal proceedings, arguing that Jasso’s home-invasion conviction was a “crime of violence” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(F), 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), which then defined a “crime of violence” with both an elements clause and a residual clause, 18 U.S.C. 16. The IJ found that Jasso’s home-invasion conviction was a crime of violence under the residual clause. Before the Board of Immigration Appeals acted, the Sixth Circuit found the residual clause unconstitutionally vague. The BIA remanded for a new removability determination. The IJ terminated the proceeding, warning Jasso that DHS could “recharge under a different theory.” Two days later DHS initiated a second removal proceeding, arguing that Jasso’s home-invasion conviction was a “burglary offense” rather than a “crime of violence,” 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G), 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). The IJ agreed and rejected Jasso’s argument that res judicata barred the second proceeding. The BIA affirmed, concluding that res judicata does not apply in removal proceedings involving aggravated felons. The Sixth Circuit vacated and remanded for determination of whether claim preclusion applies, which depends on whether the first removal proceeding was dismissed with or without prejudice—an issue never addressed by the Board. View "Jasso-Arangure v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Gafurova, a citizen of Uzbekistan, entered the U.S. in June 2003, as a visitor. She remained in the U.S. without authorization and applied for Asylum in June 2004. An IJ ordered her removal, characterizing Gafurova’s asylum application as frivolous. The BIA denied Gafurova’s appeal but reversed the frivolity determination. The Second Circuit denied her petition for review. Gafurova moved to reopen because of a pending visa petition filed on her behalf by her husband. On remand, the IJ denied Gafurova’s application for adjustment of status because she had previously filed a frivolous asylum application. The BIA again remanded. DHS then submitted evidence that Gafurova’s 2011 visa petition was revoked; she was not eligible to seek adjustment of status. Gafurova moved to change venue to New York for a second asylum application, arguing that she converted to Christianity and that she would be viewed as a traitor in Uzbekistan because information is publicly available that she sought asylum. An IJ denied Gafurova’s motion, found her barred from filing a second application, and ordered her removal. The BIA dismissed her appeal. While Gafurova’s Sixth Circuit petition was pending, she again moved to reopen, citing “changed circumstances” in Uzbekistan and new Sixth CIrcuit law pertaining to asylum applications based solely upon well-founded fear of future persecution. The BIA denied her motion, stating that the public disclosure of the Second Circuit decision did not violate asylum confidentiality. The Sixth Circuit denied her petition for review, finding that the BIA applied the correct standards and that its decision was supported by substantial evidence. View "Gafurova v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law