Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Petitioner Dennis Arostegui-Maldonado, a citizen of Costa Rica and El Salvador, was removed from the United States in 2008. In 2021, he reentered. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) reinstated his removal order. Arostegui-Maldonado told an asylum officer that he feared persecution or torture in Costa Rica and El Salvador. The officer referred his case to an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) for “withholding-only proceedings” to decide whether to forbid his removal to those countries. The IJ denied relief. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed. Arostegui-Maldonado challenged the agency’s rulings on the merits, arguing: (1) the IJ misapplied the “under color of law” element to his Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) claim; (2) the BIA ignored his CAT claim; (3) the IJ failed to fully develop the record; and (4) the IJ and the BIA violated his due process rights. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Arostegui-Maldonado that the IJ misapplied “under color of law” to his CAT claim, and granted the petition on that ground. The Court otherwise denied the petition and remanded for further proceedings. View "Arostegui-Maldonado v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioners' petition for review of their asylum and withholding of removal claims and concluded that Petitioners waived any argument regarding relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that substantial evidence supported the immigration judge's (IJ) factual determinations and that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) committed no errors of law.In their application for asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT relief, Petitioners argued that they experiences in El Salvador established persecution and that they belonged to two separate particular social groups that were threatened by gang members. The IJ denied relief, concluding that Petitioners failed to establish persecution and did not meet their burden as to the two separate particular social groups they claimed. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit denied review, holding that the BIA and IJ did not err when they concluded that Petitioners did not meet their burden with respect to persecution on account of a protected group and withholding of removal. View "Sanchez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The H-1B visa program allows foreign nationals to work in the United States in specialized positions for sponsoring employers. By regulation, any such employer must file amended paperwork with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services whenever it makes a “material change” in the terms of covered employment. In Simeio Solutions, LLC, 26 I & N Dec. 542 (AAO 2015), USCIS interpreted that phrase to include a change in the place of employment. And in an ensuing guidance document, USCIS memorialized this interpretation and exercised discretion to limit its retroactive enforcement. ITServe Alliance, Inc., a trade association representing employers, seeks a declaratory judgment that Simeio and the guidance document are unlawful. ITServe contends that Simeio was a procedurally defective rulemaking and that USCIS lacks statutory authority to require the amended filings.   The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment and held that ITServe has Article III standing to raise these arguments, but the court rejected them on the merits. The court explained that because USCIS may consider LCA-related issues in exercising its own authority to approve, disapprove, or revoke H-1B petitions, it may require new or amended petitions corresponding to changes in the place of employment that necessitate the filing of new LCAs. View "ITServe Alliance, Inc. v. DHS" on Justia Law

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In 2021, the Secretary of Homeland Security promulgated Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law that prioritize the arrest and removal from the U.S. of noncitizens who are suspected terrorists or dangerous criminals or who have unlawfully entered the country only recently. Texas and Louisiana claimed that the Guidelines contravened federal statutes that require the arrest of certain noncitizens upon their release from prison (8 U.S.C. 1226(c)) or entry of a final order of removal (1231(a)(2)). The district court found that the states had standing, citing costs they would incur, then found the Guidelines unlawful. The Fifth Circuit declined to stay the judgment.The Supreme Court reversed. Texas and Louisiana lack Article III standing to challenge the Guidelines. To establish standing, a plaintiff must show an injury in fact caused by the defendant and redressable by a court order. The alleged injury must “be legally and judicially cognizable.” There is no precedent, history, or tradition of federal courts entertaining lawsuits of this kind; a plaintiff lacks standing to bring such a suit “when he himself is neither prosecuted nor threatened with prosecution.” Such lawsuits implicate the Executive’s Article II authority to decide how to prioritize and how aggressively to pursue legal actions against defendants who violate the law, which extends to the immigration context. The Court stated that the standing calculus might change if the Executive Branch wholly abandoned its statutory responsibilities to make arrests or bring prosecutions and that policies governing the continued detention of noncitizens who have been arrested arguably might raise different standing questions. View "United States v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Sarah Farum filed a frivolous asylum application. An immigration judge determined the application rendered her permanently ineligible for immigration benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Farnum did not challenge the frivolousness finding made by the immigration judge, nor did she challenge she had proper notice of the consequences of filing a false application. She instead challenged the timing of when the frivolous-asylum bar was effective. In her view, the frivolous-application bar outlined in 8 U.S.C. § 1158(d)(6) could not be invoked in the same proceeding as a frivolousness finding was made, thus allowing an immigration court to consider other potential claims that might support a finding that the Attorney General should withhold her deportation. To this, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed: "Once an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals makes the required frivolousness finding, the statutory bar is effective." View "Farnum v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that government agents searched his cell phone at the border without a warrant on at least five occasions and that agents copied data from his cell phone at least once. Plaintiff sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the respective heads of each entity in their official capacity (collectively, the government), challenging the searches, as well as ICE and CBP policies regarding border searches of electronic devices. In the district court, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking, among other relief, a preliminary injunction preventing the government from searching his cell phone at the border without a warrant. The district court denied the preliminary injunction.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate a substantial threat he will suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted. The court reasoned that Plaintiff has demonstrated that the ICE and CBP policies authorize warrantless searches. Further, the allegations in Plaintiff’s verified complaint are evidence of a pattern of warrantless searches of Plaintiff’s cell phone. However, Plaintiff has no additional evidence to establish that he will be stopped by border agents in the future and that the agents will search his cell phone without a warrant. View "Anibowei v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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Texas and Missouri filed suit seeking to compel DHS to employ the $2.75 billion Congress allocated “for the construction of [a] barrier system along the southwest border” before those funds expire. The district court dismissed Texas for “claim splitting,” held that Missouri did not have standing to sue, and denied the States’ motion for a preliminary injunction as moot. The states appealed.On appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions for the district court to "expeditiously consider the States’ motion for a preliminary injunction." The court explained Texas should not have been dismissed for claim splitting because Texas’s Article III standing confers federal jurisdiction. In terms of causation, Texas needs only to have alleged facts showing the Federal Defendants’ conduct is a cause-in-fact of the injury that the State asserts. Here, Texas claimed that border barriers (i) reduce illegal entries in areas where constructed, and (ii) increase the rate at which illegal aliens are detected and apprehended.However, the court declined to order the states' requested remedy, instead remanding the case to the district court. View "State of Missouri v. Biden" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's claim that he had a reasonable fear of persecution if repatriated to his native Ghana on account of his membership in a particular social group, holding that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and immigration judge (IJ) correctly rejected Petitioner's claim.Petitioner conceded his removability but cross-applied for withholding of removal and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, testifying that, if returned to Ghana, he would be tortured and killed because his family never surrendered formal title to land taken from them by a local chieftain. The IJ ordered Petitioner removed to Ghana, and the BIA dismissed Petitioner's appeal. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for judicial review, holding that the IJ and BIA did not err in finding that the interpersonal conflict between Petitioner's family and the chieftain was unconnected to a statutorily-protected ground for relief. View "Odei v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming Petitioner's order of removal and denying his application for adjustment of status, holding that a conviction under Mass. Gen. Laws (MGL) ch. 269, 11C is not categorically a firearm offense, as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(c).Petitioner, a citizen of El Salvador, pleaded guilty in Massachusetts state court to defacing or receiving a firearm with a defaced serial number in violation of MGL ch. 269, 11C. The Department of Homeland Security later initiated removal proceedings against Petitioner charging him with removal based solely on his Massachusetts state court conviction. Petitioner moved to terminate the proceedings on the grounds that his Massachusetts conviction did not qualify as a removable firearm offense. The immigration judge sustained the removability charge and denied Petitioner's ensuing application to adjust his status. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's opinion and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that MGL ch. 269, 11C was facially overbroad when compared to its federal counterpart. View "Portillo v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Agnes Mukantagara, and her son, Plaintiff Ebenezer Shyaka, challenged an unfavorable United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) decision on refugee status. Meanwhile, the government began separate removal proceedings. Plaintiffs filed this suit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah seeking judicial review of the termination of their refugee status. Defendants moved to dismiss, contending that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the agency action was not final and because of the jurisdiction-stripping provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In the district court’s view, the regulation implementing the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provision allowing for the termination of refugee status, 8 C.F.R § 207.9, constitutes a triggering event that “arises from” an action taken to remove an alien. The district court said Plaintiffs’ claims fell within the scope of 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(9) because they challenged the decision “to seek removal.” The district court dismissed the action, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction. But the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined the district court read the statute too expansively. “Congress did not intend the zipper clause 'to cut off claims that have a tangential relationship with pending removal proceedings.' ... the regulation strips USCIS’s discretion whether it should take action to remove an alien under the circumstances.” USCIS’s decision “is not a decision to ‘commence proceedings,’ much less to ‘adjudicate’ a case or ‘execute’ a removal order.” View "Mukantagara, et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al." on Justia Law