Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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The case involves Raymond Sefakor Yao Azumah, a Ghanaian national who was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident in 2010. After a trip to Ghana in 2014, Azumah was deemed inadmissible due to an intervening embezzlement conviction. Despite this, the government paroled Azumah into the country and initiated removal proceedings against him. These proceedings were later dismissed, and Azumah applied for citizenship. However, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services denied his application, arguing that Azumah was statutorily ineligible because he was not “lawfully admitted for permanent residence” upon his return to the United States in 2014. The district court affirmed this denial.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit disagreed with the lower court's decision. The court noted that Azumah was indeed “lawfully admitted for permanent residence” at all relevant times, including 2010, 2014, and when he sought citizenship, because he had the status of a legal permanent resident of the United States. The court did not interpret the agency regulation to impose upon Azumah the additional burden of showing that he was “lawfully admitted” rather than paroled when he returned to the United States in 2014. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Azumah v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services" on Justia Law

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Three Chinese individuals invested in a project to improve Philadelphia’s transit infrastructure as part of an effort to obtain EB-5 visas, which are visas for foreign investors who create jobs in the United States. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved their visa applications. However, due to the oversubscription of the EB-5 visa program, the investors were waiting in line for visas to become available. In 2022, Congress changed the eligibility requirements for EB-5 visas, creating a new category of “reserved” EB-5 visas for foreigners who invest in “infrastructure projects”. The investors believed that they should be eligible for the new “reserved” visas based on their past investments in infrastructure. They sued the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS, arguing that previous investments in already-approved infrastructure-focused projects should be eligible for reserved EB-5 visas. The district court dismissed the complaint, ruling that the government had taken no final agency action that may be challenged at this time.The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court agreed with the lower court that the arguments made by the appellants were premature. The court found that the statements made by USCIS in a Q&A and a policy manual merely clarified the existing process for seeking an immigration benefit and did not constitute final agency action. The court also noted that the appellants were not precluded from applying for reserved EB-5 visas. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the district court, dismissing the appellants' claims for lack of finality under the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Delaware Valley Regional Center, LLC v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The case involves an American citizen and her noncitizen husband who sued two U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials, alleging that USCIS unreasonably delayed adjudicating a waiver application the husband submitted two years prior. The plaintiffs argued that the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Mandamus Act granted subject-matter jurisdiction over their claims. The district court dismissed their claims, concluding that language in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that denies courts jurisdiction over suits based on agency “decisions or actions” also bars suits over agency inaction.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision, but for different reasons. The appellate court found that the district court erred in interpreting the INA's jurisdictional bar to include agency inaction. However, the court concluded that no statute or regulation requires USCIS to adjudicate the husband’s waiver application, and therefore, the district court lacked jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' claims. The court noted that while the delay in adjudication was stressful for the plaintiffs, their complaint should be addressed to the political branches, as the court lacked jurisdiction to order the relief sought. View "Lovo v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The case involves a group of plaintiffs who were selected in the diversity visa lottery for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The plaintiffs argued that the Department of State unlawfully suspended, deprioritized, and delayed the processing of their visa applications during the COVID-19 pandemic. They contended that these actions prevented them from receiving visas before the fiscal-year-end deadlines.The district courts agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered the Department of State to continue processing applications and issuing visas after the statutory deadlines had passed. The Department of State appealed these decisions, arguing that the courts lacked the authority to order such relief.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the district courts lacked the authority to order the Department of State to continue processing applications and issuing visas after the statutory deadlines. The court reasoned that the statutory deadline for issuing visas was clear and unambiguous, and neither history nor context provided any basis for departing from it. The court further noted that the plaintiffs did not have a substantive entitlement to the visas, and decisions regarding the prioritization and processing of visa applications implicated weighty concerns of foreign policy and national security. The court reversed the remedial orders of the district courts and remanded the cases with instructions to enter judgment for the government. View "Goodluck v. Biden" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around Ravi Teja, an Indian citizen, who paid thousands of dollars to enroll at the "University of Farmington," expecting to take classes. Unbeknownst to him, the University was a fictitious entity created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of an undercover operation to target fraud involving student visas. When the operation came to light, the government neither provided the education Ravi had paid for nor refunded his money. Ravi filed a lawsuit against the United States in the United States Court of Federal Claims, alleging a breach of contract and an accompanying breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.The United States Court of Federal Claims dismissed Ravi's complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, without addressing other issues. The court reasoned that its jurisdiction under the Tucker Act does not extend to contracts entered into by the government when acting as a sovereign unless those contracts unmistakably subject the government to damages in the event of breach. The court concluded that the government was acting in its sovereign capacity as it entered into the alleged contract in furtherance of an undercover law-enforcement operation, and that the alleged contract did not unmistakably subject the government to damages in the event of breach.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the Claims Court’s dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Appeals Court concluded that the Claims Court had jurisdiction pursuant to the Tucker Act over the agreement alleged by Ravi. The court disagreed with the Claims Court's interpretation of the Tucker Act, stating that the contract in question did not concern what was promised to happen or not to happen in a different proceeding in another adjudicatory forum, and thus did not fall into the narrow exception carved out by precedent. The court remanded the case for further proceedings, noting that other grounds not reached by the Claims Court but raised by the government as alternative bases to affirm warranted further exploration. View "RAVI v. US " on Justia Law

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This case arose from a raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at Abel Ramirez-Peñaloza’s family home in Heber City, Utah. After Mr. Ramirez-Peñaloza was indicted for unlawful entry into the U.S., ICE officials attempted to arrest him at his home. During two searches of his home, officials detained and questioned his family members. The plaintiffs, some of Mr. Ramirez-Peñaloza’s family members who were detained during the searches, filed claims against the U.S. and the agents alleging Fourth Amendment and state law violations.The district court dismissed most of the plaintiffs’ claims, but allowed three claims to go to trial, where a jury returned a verdict in favor of the officers. The plaintiffs appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the officers on the excessive use of force and false arrest claims.The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court held that the dismissed claims were barred by the Federal Tort Claims Act’s (FTCA) judgment bar, which precludes suits against federal employees after the entry of final judgment on a claim against the U.S. for an analogous cause of action. Since the district court entered final judgment in favor of the U.S. on the plaintiffs’ analogous FTCA claims, the claims against the individual defendants were barred. View "Ramirez v. Reddish" on Justia Law

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The case involves a group of Afghan and Iraqi nationals who served the United States during recent armed conflicts and are now facing serious threats due to their service. They applied for special-immigrant visas, but their applications were delayed. Congress had authorized the Secretary of State to issue these visas and later mandated that the government should improve its efficiency to process the applications within nine months, except in cases involving unusual national-security risks. However, the plaintiffs' applications had been pending for more than nine months.The district court held that the government had unreasonably delayed processing these applications. In 2020, the court approved a plan requiring the prompt adjudication of applications filed by class members and pending for more than nine months as of May 21, 2020. In 2022, the Secretary moved to terminate or modify the plan based on changed circumstances in the two years since 2020. The district court recognized that changed circumstances warrant modifying the plan, but it refused to terminate the plan. The government appealed the refusal to terminate.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court held that the district court reasonably responded to the changes and that some continued judicial involvement remains appropriate. The court also noted that the government's increased difficulties in processing visa applications cannot retroactively make past unreasonable delays reasonable. The court concluded that the district court permissibly balanced the various competing interests in declining to terminate the 2020 adjudication plan. View "Afghan and Iraqi Allies v. Blinken" on Justia Law

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The case involves Hartono Djokro and his son William Djokro, citizens of Indonesia who entered the United States as nonimmigrant visitors and overstayed their visas. In 2007, Hartono Djokro filed an application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), including his son as a derivative applicant. They were served with notices to appear by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2008, charging them with removability for having remained in the United States longer than they had been authorized.In 2009, an immigration judge (IJ) denied their applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the CAT. The IJ found that the petitioners were ineligible for relief on several grounds, including that they had failed to establish a pattern or practice of persecution against either Chinese or Christians in Indonesia. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upheld the IJ's decision in 2012. The petitioners' first motion to reopen was denied by the BIA in 2013.In the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the petitioners sought review of the BIA's denial of their second untimely motion to reopen, filed in 2021. The court denied the petition, finding that the BIA reasonably concluded that the petitioners had failed to satisfy the requirements for an exception to late filing. The court held that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in finding that the petitioners failed to establish changed conditions or circumstances material to their eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal. The court found that the record amply supported the BIA's determination that the petitioners had not met their burden of showing that the exception for changed country conditions applies. View "Djokro v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The case involves Jose Yanel Sanchez-Perez, a native and citizen of El Salvador, who entered the United States in 1998. In 2009, Sanchez-Perez pleaded guilty to committing misdemeanor domestic assault under Tennessee law. The following day, the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against him. In 2015, an immigration judge found Sanchez-Perez ineligible for cancellation of removal because he failed to establish that he had been continuously present in the United States for ten years prior to receiving the notice to appear. However, the judge also found that Sanchez-Perez was not statutorily barred from seeking cancellation of removal due to his 2009 domestic-violence conviction.The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed Sanchez-Perez’s appeal and agreed with the immigration judge’s findings that Sanchez-Perez lacked the requisite continuous physical presence and thus was not eligible for cancellation of removal. In 2018, the immigration judge found that Sanchez-Perez’s 2009 conviction is categorically a crime of violence, and thus Sanchez-Perez was statutorily barred from obtaining cancellation of removal. The BIA dismissed Sanchez-Perez’s appeal from this decision.The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reviewed the case. The court found that the BIA erred in determining that Sanchez-Perez’s 2009 conviction was categorically a crime of violence, and thus Sanchez-Perez was statutorily barred from obtaining cancellation of removal. The court noted that the Tennessee statute at issue criminalizes conduct that does not require the use or threatened use of violent physical force. Therefore, the court granted Sanchez-Perez’s petition for review, vacated the BIA’s order, and remanded the case to the BIA for proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Sanchez-Perez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The case involves Walid Abdulahad, an Iraqi national who sought review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) denial of his motion to reopen his removal proceedings based on changed country conditions in Iraq. Abdulahad, who had been living in the U.S. since 1997, was ordered removed in absentia in 2006 following a criminal conviction in Aruba. He remained in the U.S. under supervision and filed multiple motions to reopen his case, arguing that he faced a risk of torture if returned to Iraq due to his status as a Chaldean Christian and his ties to the U.S.The BIA denied Abdulahad's latest motion to reopen, finding that his evidence was cumulative of evidence submitted with prior motions, and that he had not established a particularized risk of torture or that each step in his causal-chain claim was more likely than not to occur. Abdulahad petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for review of the BIA's decision.The Sixth Circuit granted the petition, vacated the BIA's decision, and remanded the case back to the BIA. The court found that the BIA had applied the incorrect legal standards when determining whether Abdulahad's evidence was new, cumulative, or material, and had failed to assess Abdulahad's claims in the aggregate. The court also found that the BIA had not sufficiently explained or considered the evidence related to Abdulahad's particularized likelihood of torture. View "Abdulahad v. Garland" on Justia Law