Articles Posted in Immigration Law

by
Defendant Magdiel Sanchez-Urias pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the country after being deported. The court imposed a sentence that included a $1,000 fine. Defendant appealed, arguing that he could not afford the fine. After review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed: defendant bore the burden to show that he lacked the assets to pay the fine. But he refused to provide financial information at his presentence interview, and the district court did not clearly err in finding on the record before it that Defendant had not established his inability to pay. View "United States v. Sanchez-Urias" on Justia Law

by
Abraham Gonzalez-Alarcon filed a habeas petition alleging specific facts which, if proven, would have demonstrated he was a United States citizen. He sought release from custody from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) following ICE’s reinstatement of a prior order of removal on that basis. Dismissing Gonzalez-Alarcon’s petition, the district court concluded that he was required to exhaust administrative remedies, jurisdiction was barred by the REAL ID Act, and the petition for review process was an adequate substitute for habeas such that the REAL ID Act’s jurisdiction-stripping provisions do not offend the Suspension Clause. After review, the Tenth Circuit concluded the exhaustion provision at issue did not govern facially valid citizenship claims; that subsection applies only to aliens. And because district courts had jurisdiction to determine their own jurisdiction, the Tenth Circuit held a court must first consider whether a petitioner was in fact an alien before requiring exhaustion. Furthermore, the Court held the REAL ID Act’s jurisdiction-stripping provisions raised serious Suspension Clause concerns in one limited context: with respect to a United States citizen subject to a reinstated order of removal for whom the deadline to seek judicial review has passed, the REAL ID Act appeared to bar federal court review. “These restrictions would effectively strip citizenship from those who do not clear various procedural hurdles. Citizenship cannot be relinquished through mere neglect. . . . and ‘[t]he very nature of the writ demands that it be administered with the initiative and flexibility essential to insure that miscarriages of justice within its reach are surfaced and corrected.’” Under the Suspension Clause, the Tenth Circuit held Gonzalez-Alarcon had to be granted some path to advance his facially valid claim of citizenship in federal court. Before permitting Gonzalez-Alarcon to proceed under the Great Writ, however, he should first attempt to obtain review of his citizenship claim through the REAL ID Act. View "Gonzalez-Alarcon v. Macias" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner Paulo Afamasaga was a native and citizen of Samoa who entered the United States on a nonimmigrant tourist visa and remained beyond the date authorized. After he pleaded guilty to making a false statement when applying for an American passport, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated removal proceedings against him. Petitioner applied for cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1229b, but the immigration judge (IJ) deemed him ineligible on the ground that violating Section 1542 was a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) agreed and dismissed his appeal. “Exercising jurisdiction to review questions of law decided in BIA removal orders (see Flores-Molina v. Sessions, 850 F.3d 1150 (10th Cir. 2017)), the Tenth Circuit upheld the BIA’s determination that petitioner was not eligible for cancellation of removal. View "Afamasaga v. Sessions" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Ortiz-Lazaro pled guilty to illegal reentry after deportation in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1326(a)(1) and (b)(1), and he admitted that he violated the supervised release terms of his prior illegal reentry charge. He appealed his above-guidelines sentence for the supervised release violation as procedurally and substantively unreasonable. In looking at the detailed explanation the district court gave for its deviation from the guidelines, the Tenth Circuit concluded the sentence was reasonable and that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "United States v. Ortiz-Lazaro" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Ortiz-Lazaro pled guilty to illegal reentry after deportation in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1326(a)(1) and (b)(1), and he admitted that he violated the supervised release terms of his prior illegal reentry charge. He appealed his above-guidelines sentence for the supervised release violation as procedurally and substantively unreasonable. In looking at the detailed explanation the district court gave for its deviation from the guidelines, the Tenth Circuit concluded the sentence was reasonable and that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "United States v. Ortiz-Lazaro" on Justia Law

by
This appeal addressed whether immigration detainees housed in a private contract detention facility in Aurora, Colorado could bring claims as a class under: (1) 18 U.S.C. 1589, a provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the “TVPA”) that prohibits forced labor; and (2) Colorado unjust enrichment law. The GEO Group, Inc. (“GEO”) owned and operated the Aurora Facility under government contract. While there, Appellees rendered mandatory and voluntary services to GEO: cleaning their housing units’ common areas and performed various jobs through a voluntary work program, which paid them $1 a day. The district court certified two separate classes: (1) all detainees housed at the Aurora Facility in the past ten years (the “TVPA class”); and (2) all detainees who participated in the Aurora Facility’s voluntary work program in the past three years (the “unjust enrichment class”). On interlocutory appeal, GEO argues that the district court abused its discretion in certifying each class under Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It primarily contended Appellees’ TVPA and Colorado unjust enrichment claims both required predominantly individualized determinations, making class treatment inappropriate. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed class certification. View "Menocal v. The GEO Group" on Justia Law

by
The Tenth Circuit expedited consideration of this bail appeal to consider Mario Ailon-Ailon’s argument that the government has misinterpreted the word “flee” as it appeared in 18 U.S.C. 3142(f)(2), resulting in his illegal pre-trial detention. He argued that involuntary removal by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) did not constitute flight of the sort that would justify detention. On initial consideration, a magistrate judge agreed and determined that Ailon-Ailon should not have been detained before trial. On review of the magistrate judge, the district court reversed, ordering that he be detained. The Tenth Circuit concluded that the plain meaning of “flee” refers to a volitional act rather than involuntary removal, and that the structure of the Bail Reform Act supported this plain-text reading. View "United States v. Ailon-Ailon" on Justia Law

by
The question presented in this appeal for the Tenth Circuit's review was whether Petitioner Juan Lucio-Rayos’s municipal theft conviction qualified as a crime involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”), which would have made him ineligible for cancellation of removal. Lucio-Rayos was convicted under a divisible municipal code provision that set forth several different theft offenses, some of which qualified as CIMTs and some of which did not. Applying a modified categorical approach, the Tenth Circuit determined it was not possible to tell which theft offense was the basis of Lucio-Rayos’s conviction. The Court held it was Lucio-Rayos’s burden to establish his eligibility for cancellation of removal, and because the record was inconclusive to this end, the Court upheld the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”)’s determination that Lucio-Rayos did not show that he was eligible for cancellation of removal. Furthermore, the immigration judge (“IJ”) did not deprive Lucio-Rayos of due process by refusing to recuse from hearing his case. View "Lucio-Rayos v. Sessions" on Justia Law

by
The question presented in this appeal for the Tenth Circuit's review was whether Petitioner Juan Lucio-Rayos’s municipal theft conviction qualified as a crime involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”), which would have made him ineligible for cancellation of removal. Lucio-Rayos was convicted under a divisible municipal code provision that set forth several different theft offenses, some of which qualified as CIMTs and some of which did not. Applying a modified categorical approach, the Tenth Circuit determined it was not possible to tell which theft offense was the basis of Lucio-Rayos’s conviction. The Court held it was Lucio-Rayos’s burden to establish his eligibility for cancellation of removal, and because the record was inconclusive to this end, the Court upheld the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”)’s determination that Lucio-Rayos did not show that he was eligible for cancellation of removal. Furthermore, the immigration judge (“IJ”) did not deprive Lucio-Rayos of due process by refusing to recuse from hearing his case. View "Lucio-Rayos v. Sessions" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner Liying Qiu, a native and citizen of the People’s Republic of China, sought asylum and withholding of removal based on her status as a Christian who did not agree with China’s state-sanctioned version of Christianity, and as a woman who violated China’s one-child policy by having three children. Her application was denied by the immigration court in 2011, and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed that decision in March 2013. In December 2015, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen based on the significantly increased persecution of Christians in China in 2014 and 2015. The BIA denied her motion to reopen as untimely. Amongst the evidence submitted in support of her application, Petitioner submitted a portion of the 2015 annual report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan U.S. government entity that monitored religious freedom violations globally and made policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. The BIA held that Petitioner had not submitted sufficient evidence to show a change in country conditions, and thus that her motion to reopen was untimely under 8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(7)(C). The Tenth Circuit found the BIA abused its discretion in denying Petitioner's application: "surely Congress did not intend for 8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(7)(C) to protect only petitioners who file frivolous asylum applications under no threat of persecution, while extending no help to petitioners who seek reopening after an existing pattern of persecution becomes dramatically worse. The BIA’s reasoning would lead to an absurd result, one we cannot condone." The Court held that a significant increase in the level of persecution constituted a material change in country conditions for purposes of 8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(7)(C) and that the BIA abuses its discretion when it fails to assess and consider a petitioner’s evidence that the persecution of others in his protected category has substantially worsened since the initial application. The Court concluded the BIA provided no rational, factually supported reason for denying Petitioner’s motion to reopen, and accordingly remanded this case back to the BIA for further consideration. View "Qiu v. Sessions" on Justia Law