Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Bangladesh citizen Atm Magfoor Rahman Sarkar, his wife, and their two children petitioned for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (BIA) order denying their third motion to reopen removal proceedings. Although this case was pending for nearly five years, shortly before oral argument both Sarkar and the Government moved to administratively close this case because the Government deemed Sarkar a low enforcement priority. On the merits, it was undisputed that Sarkar’s third motion to reopen was untimely and numerically barred. Nevertheless, he argued he was entitled to relief because he presented new and material country-condition evidence that established his prima facie eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the BIA, finding Sarkar's attempts to connect generalized evidence of increased Islamic extremism with his contentions that he has become known “as a fierce opponent of religious extremism” and he has “no doubt” that he was known as an enemy “within the Bangladesh Jihadi/Extremist network” failed to establish a nexus between a reasonable fear of future persecution and his proposed protected grounds. "[I]t points to generalized crime and societal shifts that do not target him or those in his proposed social groups." View "Sarkar v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Third Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review challenging his expedited removal by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) based on Petitioner's Pennsylvania conviction for receiving stolen property, holding that Petitioner's state conviction was an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G).In 2020, DHS initiated expedited removal proceedings against Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, alleging that Petitioner was charged with being deportable under the INA as an alien "convicted of an aggravated felony" because he had been convicted of receiving stolen property. Petitioner requested withholding of removal, arguing that his Pennylvania receiving stolen property conviction was not an aggravated felony under the INA. DHS disagreed, and the immigration judge (IJ) upheld the determination. The Third Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding that the Pennsylvania offense was sufficient to constitute an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G). View "Jacome v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law

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In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP): certain non-Mexican nationals arriving by land from Mexico were returned to Mexico to await the results of their removal proceedings. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 1225(b)(2)(C) provides: “In the case of an alien ... who is arriving on land ... from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States, the [Secretary] may return the alien to that territory pending a proceeding under section 1229a.” The Biden administration later suspended the program. The Fifth Circuit affirmed an order enjoining the termination of MMP.The Supreme Court reversed. The rescission of MPP did not violate INA section 1225. The contiguous-territory return authority in section 1225(b)(2)(C) is discretionary and remains discretionary notwithstanding any violation of section 1225(b)(2)(A), which provides for mandatory detention of such aliens. Since its enactment, every Presidential administration has interpreted section 1225(b)(2)(C) as discretionary, notwithstanding the consistent shortfall of funds to comply with section 1225(b)(2)(A). Interpreting section 1225(b)(2)(C) as a mandate imposes a significant burden upon the Executive’s ability to conduct diplomatic relations with Mexico. The availability of parole as an alternative means of processing applicants for admission (section 1182(d)(5)(A)), additionally makes clear that the Court of Appeals erred.The Court of Appeals also erred to the extent it understood itself to be reviewing an abstract decision apart from the specific agency actions contained in memoranda in which the Secretary of Homeland Security terminated MMP. View "Biden v. Texas" on Justia Law

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The federal government may deny admission or adjustment of status to a noncitizen “likely at any time to become a public charge, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(A). For decades, “public charge” was understood to refer to noncitizens “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the meaning of “public charge” to disqualify a broader set of noncitizens from benefits. The Rule immediately generated extensive litigation.In 2020, the district court vacated the 2019 Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701. In 2021, the federal government dismissed appeals defending the 2019 Rule in courts around the country. Several states subsequently sought to intervene in the proceedings, hoping to defend the 2019 Rule; they also moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). The district court denied the motions, finding each untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to timeliness. The court declined to address other issues. View "Cook County, Illinois v. State of Texas" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit granted a petition for review of a ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that affirmed the final order of removal entered against Petitioner pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1229-1229a and vacated the BIA's ruling,Petitioner conceded removability but sought relief from removal based on asylum and withholding of removal, as well as the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The immigration judge (IJ) denied the applications, and the BIA affirmed. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's ruling in part, holding (1) Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his assertion of bias; and (2) because the BIA upheld an adverse credibility determination that the IJ reached in part based on an inconsistency in Petitioner's story that simply was not an inconsistency, the BIA's ruling affirming the IJ's denial of that claim must be vacated. View "Pujols v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The named plaintiffs, aliens who were detained under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6) after reentering the United States illegally, filed a putative class action, alleging that aliens detained under section 1231(a)(6) are entitled to bond hearings after six months’ detention. The district court certified a class of similarly situated plaintiffs and enjoined the government from detaining the class members under section 1231(a)(6) for more than 180 days without providing each a bond hearing. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.The Supreme Court reversed. INA section 1252(f )(1) deprived the district courts of jurisdiction to entertain aliens’ requests for class-wide injunctive relief. Section 1252(f )(1) generally strips lower courts of jurisdiction or authority to “enjoin or restrain the operation of ” certain INA provisions. Section 1252(f )(1)’s one exception allows lower courts to “enjoin or restrain the operation of ” the relevant statutory provisions “with respect to the application of such provisions to an individual alien against whom proceedings under such part have been initiated.” Here, both district courts entered injunctions that “enjoin or restrain the operation” of section 1231(a)(6) because they require officials to take actions that (in the government’s view) are not required by 1231(a)(6) and to refrain from actions that are allowed; the injunctions do not fall within the exception for individualized relief. Section 1252(f )(1) refers to “an individual,” not “individuals.” View "Garland v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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The Transgender Law Center (collectively “TLC”), acting on behalf of the family and estate of an asylum-seeker, submitted two FOIA requests. The first FOIA request was directed to the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and the second was directed to the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. TLC filed suit in district court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court granted TLC’s request for declaratory judgment holding that the agencies had failed to timely respond to their FOIA requests, but ruled for the agencies in all other respects.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s partial summary judgment; vacated the district court’s mootness determination; and remanded. The court held that the government’s belated disclosure was not “adequate” under FOIA. The court reasoned that the Government failed to carry its burden because the agencies did not appropriately respond to positive indications of overlooked materials provided by TLC and did not hew to their duty to follow obvious leads.The court further held that the agencies’ Vaughn indices were filled with boilerplate or conclusory statements; and this high-level, summary approach resulted in an unacceptable lack of specificity and tailoring that undermined TLC’s ability to contest the agencies’ withholdings. The court also held that the Government failed to come forward with clear, precise, and easily reviewable explanations for why the information was not segregable. View "TRANSGENDER LAW CENTER V. ICE" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of blood plasma companies, challenged a U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") rule precluding aliens from entering the U.S. using B-1 business visitor visas to sell plasma. Plaintiffs claimed that they invested substantial resources to develop plasma collection facilities near the border and that the CPB rule failed to take Plaintiffs' interests into account when creating the new rule.The district court denied Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the Plaintiffs' interests were not within the Administrative Procedure Act's "zone of interests." The district court, determining the zone-of-interest determination was jurisdictional, dismissed the complaint.The D.C. Circuit reversed. For the Plaintiffs to sue under the APA, they must have been “adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute." However, the zone-of-interests determination is a merits issue, not a jurisdictional one. From there, the D.C. Circuit considered the merits, finding that the Plainitffs' case interests should have been considered under the B-1 analysis. Thus, the court remanded the case for further proceedings. View "CSL Plasma Inc. v. United States Customs and Border Protection" on Justia Law

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The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), maintains an Attorney Discipline Program. Under the Program, Plaintiff filed a complaint against his former attorney. Plaintiff sought to compel the EOIR to complete its investigation of his complaint against his former attorney and to report its investigation results. Plaintiff relief on the Mandamus Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 1361, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. Section 706(1).   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of an action seeking to compel the Executive Office for Immigration Review to complete its investigation of Plaintiff’s complaint. The court held that the district court erred in treating the requirements for obtaining relief under the APA as jurisdictional and dismissing the complaint on that basis. The court reasoned that because Mandamus relief and relief under the APA are in essence the same, Plaintiff had an adequate remedy under the APA. The court followed precedent and chose to analyze the APA claim only. Here, the EOIR had a clear, mandatory duty to investigate Plaintiff’s complaint within a reasonable time, but it had no duty to report its investigation results to Plaintiff. Thus, Plaintiff would only be entitled to relief if the EOIR unreasonably delayed in carrying out its duty to investigate. The court applied the six-factor balancing test announced in Telecommunications Research & Action Center v. FCC, 750 F.2d 70 (D.C. Cir. 1984), holding that the EOIR’s delay was not unreasonable under the APA. View "PRYMAS VAZ V. DAVID NEAL" on Justia Law

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The diversity-visa program makes as many as 55,000 visas available annually to citizens of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, 8 U.S.C. 1151(e), 1153(c); the State Department holds a lottery to determine priority. Applicants who qualify, through random selection, for a diversity visa “shall remain eligible to receive such visa only through the end of the specific fiscal year for which they were selected.” The fiscal-year limit has caused many applications to fail; bureaucratic inertia or foul-ups have the same effect as affirmative decisions that applicants are ineligible. The Seventh Circuit held in 2002 held that the fiscal-year limit cannot be extended by judicial order.In March 2020, the State Department stopped processing routine visa applications, including diversity visas. High-priority applications, such as for diplomats, medical emergencies, and medical personnel, continued to be approved. Two presidential orders confirmed the Department’s approach. Fiscal Year 2020 expired.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a suit by applicants whose eligibility had expired. Section 1154(a)(1)(I)(ii)(II) applies regardless of the relief sought; it does not set a time limit for administrative action nor impose any duty on the State Department. It only specifies the consequence of delay: the applicant’s eligibility expires. A court is not authorized to substitute a different consequence. There is no statute authorizing monetary relief for the plaintiffs’ outlays that did not lead to visas. View "Shahi v. United States Department of State" on Justia Law