Articles Posted in Immigration Law

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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

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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

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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

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R-S-C illegally reentered the United States after having been removed and her prior removal order was reinstated, thus under the Attorney General’s interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), she could not apply for asylum. She challenged the Attorney General’s regulations as inconsistent with the INA’s asylum guarantee. The Tenth Circuit concluded Congress had not clearly expressed whether aliens governed by the reinstatement provision could apply for asylum. However, the Attorney General’s regulations were consistent with a reasonable interpretation of the statutory scheme, so they are entitled to administrative deference. Accordingly, the Court denied the petition for review. View "R-S-C v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Francisco Flores-Molina was an undocumented alien subject to removal from the United States. An immigration judge determined he was ineligible for cancellation of removal because he has been convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude.” The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed and dismissed Flores-Molina’s appeal. Flores-Molina then appealed to the Tenth Circuit, arguing the Board of Immigration Appeals erred in finding that his crime of conviction under Denver Municipal Code 38-40 (giving false information to a city official during an investigation), was a crime involving moral turpitude. The Tenth Circuit agreed, granted the petition and remanded for further proceedings. View "Flores-Molina v. Sessions" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Split Rail Fence Company, Inc., a Colorado business that sold and installed fencing materials, petitions for review of an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) summary decision. The decision imposed civil penalties on Split Rail for violating the Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”) by: (1) “hir[ing] for employment in the United States an individual without complying with the requirements of subsection (b)” of 8 U.S.C. 1324a in violation of section 1324a(a)(1)(B) (Count One); and (2) “continu[ing] to employ [an] alien in the United States knowing the alien is (or has become) an unauthorized alien” in violation of section 1324a(a)(2) (Count Two). ICE special agents conducted an inspection at Split Rail in 2009 and 2011 to determine its compliance with the IRCA. During the inspection, it examined Split Rail’s I-9 forms. ICE served Split Rail with an Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF), commencing this administrative proceeding against Split Rail. Split Rail management stated it “had absolutely no reason to believe either now or at any time in the past that any of [nine individuals identified as ‘current employees’ in the 2011 Notice of Suspect Documents] are anything but law abiding residents of the United States of America.” Split Rail noted many of them were long-term employees who, along with their families, had been involved in company activities, parties, and picnics. He further stated they each appeared authorized to work in the United States because they had bank accounts, cars, homes, and mortgages. He also noted many had valid driver’s licenses and some had filed successful workers’ compensation claims. He did not, however, state that Split Rail had taken any action regarding the employees’ I-9 forms. In 2012, ICE filed its complaint against Split Rail. The ALJ granted ICE summary decision on both counts. Split Rail timely filed its petition for review, but finding no reversible error as to the ALJ's decision, the Tenth Circuit denied Split Rail’s petition. View "Split Rail Fence Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Ting Xue, a native and citizen of China, applied to the Tenth Circuit for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) order affirming the denial of his petition for asylum, withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT"). Xue claimed he was persecuted in his native China for his religious beliefs. He was smuggled to North America, ultimately entering the United States illegally through Mexico in July 2008. The IJ concluded Xue’s treatment at the hands of Chinese authorities before he came to the United States was not sufficiently severe to amount to past persecution. After review, the Tenth Circuit found that the BIA correctly concluded that because Xue failed to show a reasonable possibility of future persecution, he necessarily failed to meet the higher burden required for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Furthermore, the Court found the BIA correctly concluded that Xue failed to show his eligibility for relief under the CAT. With nothing more, the Court denied Xue's petition for review. View "Xue v. Lynch" on Justia Law

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Danijela and Aleksandar Mojsilovic appealed the dismissal of their damages claim under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The Mojsilovics are Serbian scientists recruited and hired by the University of Oklahoma to serve as research assistants at the University’s Health Sciences Center. In that capacity, Aleksandar was hired to conduct DNA sequencing and tissue typing for research and clinical studies; Danijela was hired to make transfectants and tissue cultures. The Mojsilovics were retained by the University through the H-1B visa program, and they were supervised by Dr. William Hildebrand, the director of the medical research laboratory at the Health Sciences Center. Dr. Hildebrand also owned a biotechnology company called Pure Protein, which, through a contractual arrangement, shares the University’s facilities to perform similar work. According to the Mojsilovics, shortly after they were hired, Dr. Hildebrand demanded that they also work for Pure Protein. He allegedly required them to work longer hours than permitted by their visa applications, without pay, and threatened to have their visas revoked if they objected. Dr. Hildebrand became verbally abusive at times, and because he was authorized to make hiring and firing decisions, the Mojsilovics claimed they feared he would take action against their immigration status if they did not comply with his demands. The Mojsilovics eventually filed suit, naming the University, Dr. Hildebrand, and Pure Protein as defendants. With respect to claims against the University, the district court dismissed the Mojsilovic’s claims as barred by sovereign immunity. Finding no error in that decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Mojsilovic v. Board of Regents University of Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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Brayan Alexis Osuna-Gutierrez was arrested in Kansas. He was a passenger in a rental vehicle on a cross-country trip. The police found approximately seven grams of marijuana belonging to Gutierrez that he had legally purchased in Colorado. Police also found approximately three kilograms of methamphetamine in the rear portion of the car. The government charged Gutierrez and his co-defendants with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Gutierrez ultimately pled guilty to “Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute" (the government dropped the methamphetamine charges). The district court sentenced him to time served, approximately seven months. After leaving jail, Gutierrez was immediately transferred to immigration custody and served with Notice of Intent to Issue a Final Administrative Removal Order (the expedited removal process). During the removal process, an officer within DHS concluded that Gutierrez was not a legal permanent resident, having come to the United States from Mexico with his mother when he was one year old without being legally admitted. Further, Gutierrez had pled guilty to an aggravated felony. Gutierrez timely petitioned for review of his removal and was deported back to Mexico. Gutierrez argued his deportation was improper because: (1) the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) expedited removal process is illegal; and (2) in any event, it was improper for DHS to use the expedited removal process on Gutierrez because he pled guilty to a misdemeanor, not a felony. The Tenth Circuit found Gutierrez was wrong on both counts, and denied Gutierrez's petition for review. View "Osuna-Gutierrez v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Constantine Golicov, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, sought review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) order concluding that his Utah state conviction for failing to stop at a police officer’s command rendered him removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The specific provision of the INA that served as grounds for removal provided that an alien is subject for removal if that person commits an "aggravated felony." The INA defined the term "aggravated felony" to include "crimes of violence." Petitioner argued to the Tenth Circuit that "crime of violence" was unconstitutionally vague. After review of the Supreme Court precedent of "Johnson v. United States," (135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015)), and applying that case to the facts of this case, the Tenth Circuit agreed with petitioner that the INA's term was indeed vague. The order of removal was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Golicov v. Lynch" on Justia Law