Category: removal proceedings

Eleventh Circuit Denies Stand Alone 212(h) Waiver

The Eleventh Circuit ruled today that a Respondent can not file a stand alone 212(h) waiver without an accompanying application for adjustment of status application.  Rivas applied for a waiver of inadmissibility nunc pro tunc after being placed in removal proceedings. He had applied for naturalization, but his application was denied since he had two larceny convictions in Florida. The immigration judge granted the waiver application and the Service appealed. The Board reversed the immigration judge’s decision reasoning that statutory revisions such is IIRIRA precluded nunc pro tunc waiver applications. The Eleventh Circuit upheld the Board’s decision on the same reasoning. The court also ruled that Congress had several rational basis to disallow  nunc pro tunc waivers. To read the decision click here.


Applying for Asylum? Should you?

This week, I will be traveling to Miami to represent a client in an asylum interview. In this post, I will be discussing eligibility for asylum in simple terms.  I will also provide a list of important resources one could use when applying for asylum.
Asylum law is the international community’s recognition that some individuals would be threatened if they were forced to return to their homeland. According to the High Commissioner of Human Rights, this practice is one of the oldest traditions in human history. National laws are used to establish eligibility for this form of protection. Under our laws, the process of establishing eligibility is a complicated one. An asylum seeker could apply for protection overseas, where he or she applies for asylum through an international agency. However, one a person is in the US, the Department of Homeland Security adjudicates these petitions.
To qualify as an asylum seeker, one must meet the definition of refugee under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The Act defines a refugee as :”any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. INA § 101(a)(42)(A), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A).
It seems like such definition should encompass many categories and should be straightforward. It suffices to say that one of the most appealed petitions in immigration law is the petition for asylum I-589. Most of the immigration cases that reach circuit review around the United States involve asylum petitions. Many people believe that the application is a straightforward one. Sometimes, the application is such; however, when the threats are not crystallized or there is a fear of future harm, one should really hire an attorney. Most of these appeals involved applicants whose petitions were not clear enough to convince the adjudicator that they were harmed or would face harm if returned to their countries.  It is very important to consult an attorney before you apply, and if you can not afford one, please visit this link to find a free attorney in your state. Please do not apply on your own, and consult an attorney, specially since the chances of success are very low (see graph below).
So to answer the question above,  consult an attorney before you apply and do discuss other options if the attorney recommends against filing. Please comment if you have any questions.
Asylum Statistics
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Board of Immigration Appeals Holds that Admission of Conviction Might not Trigger Stop-Time Rule

I have been an advocate of changing the Supreme Court’s decision that removal proceedings are civil and not criminal. The main reason being my argument is the fact that criminal law has infiltrated removal proceedings since the criminal grounds for removal have been expanded by Congress on several occasions.

One of the problems in removal proceedings is the definition of “conviction” for immigration law purposes. The common sense definition of the term does not apply in these “civil” proceedings, since a mere admission of enough facts makes you removable for immigration purposes. The consequences that come from such “conviction” are tremendous in the immigration context, including triggering the stop-time rule, a rule that would make a person ineligible for discretionary relief like Cancellation of Removal for non and lawful permanent resident.

The Board in a recent unpublished decision ruled that admission, without being informed of the possible consequences of such conduct and the true definition of the crime, did not trigger the stop-time rule under Matter of K,I&N. Dec. 59 (BIA 1957).  Unfortunately, this is an unpublished decision by the Board, which under guidance, the Board does not have to follow. However, I have used these decisions in court proceedings and they were very persuasive. 

I ask you to please comment and let me know what you think. Also, please feel free to add me or follow me on social networks. Thank you for following me.

first_illegal_immigrants

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Know Yourself Before Applying for An Immigration Benefit

I will  be discussing the second case that I discussed in my last post. This case involved a Respondent with so many identities, that the court could not find out his true identity. In Singh v. Holder, a Respondent appealed the Board of Immigration Appeals‘ order affirming the immigration judge’s decision denying his application for adjustment of status. He claimed that his due process rights were violated and that the Board erred in holding that he could not prove that he was admitted into the United States.

Singh claimed that his name in Tarsem Singh and was born on June 13, 1982, and that he entered the United States in 1995. He was also known as Simranjit Singh. He was smuggled into the United States as the daughter of a family friend. He was apprehended by ICE in 1997 and was served with for I-213. The document showed that he was born in 1978, making him 19 years old at the time. He was removed in absentia after he failed to appear for his removal hearing.  His mother procured a new birth certificate for him, with a new name and a new birthday, making him 15 years old. He filed a motion to reopen the case arguing that he did not receive proper notice of the old proceeding, which was granted. He then moved to terminate the proceedings arguing that he was a minor at the time and termination was warranted under 8 C.F.R. § 236.3. The immigration judge ordered his removal reasoning that he was nineteen when served with the first Notice to Appear. He also ruled that he was not inspected by an immigration officer, since his story could not be credited. The Board upheld the immigration judge’s decision.

The First Circuit rejected Singh’s argument that his due process rights were violated since he was given enough notice to speak to his father about his arrest and because the curt could not prove his true age. The court also ruled that Singh could not show that he was inspected since he could not provide proof of such inspection. Thus, the court upheld the Board‘s decision.

I think that this case should not have been appealed. I believe that as practitioners we should be cautious of what we appeal, due to the concern that we establish bad law. I welcome your comments and feedback.

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Waivers of Misrepresentation under the Immigration and Naturalization Act

I have represented several individuals, both before the Service and immigration courts, who were inadmissible for a material misrepresentation under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). The typical problem involves a situation where a person was applying for a visitor’s visa, says that he/she is married when she is not, and now is applying for permanent residence based on a marriage petition. During the adjustment of status interview, the misrepresentation is discovered and the application is denied or put on hold to allow the client to apply for a waiver. In some cases the client is even placed in removal proceedings after the application is denied under Section 237(a)(1)(A) of the Act.

The good thing about these charges, if you were before the Service, is that you can apply for a waiver of the ground of inadmissibility under INA 212(i). The waiver allows the Attorney General to waive the ground of inadmissibility if the alien’s removal would lead to extreme hardship to the alien’s US citizen child or spouse. In the case of a VAWA applicant, the immigrant would qualify for the waiver if the removal would lead to personal hardship.

I have represented several clients in removal proceedings who were placed there for one reason or another. The government bears the burden of proving removability in removal proceedings. The immigrant’s chances of success in both instances depend on the availability of a qualifying relative to show hardship and the evidence that the Service possesses to prove the misrepresentation. I have always tell people, these are very complicated cases and no one should attempt to apply on their own (without an attorney).

Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, feel free to add me on Linkedin, Google+, twitter, or leave a comment using the form below.

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Ninth Circuit Rules that Applicant Waived Her Application By not Adhering to Deadlines

In an decision issued earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit ruled that an applicant waived her applications for a waiver of inadmissibility and Withholding of Removal by failing to timely apply. The government placed Taggar in  removal proceedings for being inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(A) The government added additional charges under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(G)(ii) and 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(3)(B)(iii). She applied for Cancellation of Removal and Withholding of Removal. She failed to apply timely as instructed by the immigration judge and the government moved to pretermit the case for her late filing and the judge ordered her removal. She appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which upheld the immigration judge‘s decision. 
In upholding the decisions, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the immigration judge did not abuse his discretion since he is entitled to  set deadlines under 8 C.F.R. § 1003.31. The court ruled that since she did not file within the deadline, she waived her applications and her removal order was proper.
This is a very good decision that should be applied in our circuit. I have had several cases where the government did not meet the immigration judge‘s deadlines and was still able to admit evidence and arguments. I look forward to arguing this case before our immigration judges

Eighth Circuit Upholds Denial of Adjustment of Status

Last week the Eighth Circuit upheld the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision upholding the denial of an applicant’s adjustment of status application. Luis Garcia-Gonzalez was a native of Mexico and a lawful permanent resident. He was placed in removal proceedings for his 2005 conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)  for racketeering. He was placed in removal proceedings for committing an aggravated felony. The immigration judge ordered his removal after sustaining the charge and denied his application for adjustment of status since he was inadmissible and the BIA upheld. 
In his petition for review he argued that the BIA and the immigration judge erred in ruling that he was ineligible for adjustment.  The court ruled that since Garcia-Gonzalez admitted to the essential facts of conspiracy, he was inadmissible and ineligible for adjustment of status

Second Circuit Reverses BIA’s Decision not to Reopen Removal Proceedings

This week the Second Circuit ruled that the BIA‘s decision to deny a Respondent’s Motion to Reopen removal proceedings was erroneous. The immigration judge had denied the respondent’s application for Cancellation of Removal since he allegedly did not show that he has met the ten years of continuous residence and that his removal would lead to hardship to his qualifying relatives. He appealed the decision and the BIA upheld the immigration judge. Hernandez’s Motion to Reopen his removal proceedings was also denied by the Board
The Second Circuit declined to consider the discretionary decision to deny his application for Cancellation of Removal since review is barred by statute. In reversing the decision regarding the Motion to Reopen, the court reasoned that Hernandez has shown through circumstantial evidence that he was present ten years before his hearing in 2007 and was eligible for Cancellation of Removal.
The case is Hernandez v. Holder and you can read it at this link. Happy Thanksgiving.  

BIA Rules that Unlawful possession of Ammunition by a Felon is Aggravated felony

Last week, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled that the unlawful possession of ammunition by a felon under 8 USC 922(g) is an aggravated felony under the Act. In Matter of Oppedisano,  26 I&N Dec. 202 (BIA 2013), a native of Italy was admitted to the US as a permanent resident on September 9, 1973. Id. He was convicted of unlawful possession of ammunition by a convicted felon under 8 USC 922(g) in 2012 and sentenced to probation for 5 years and fined $15000. Id. at 203. He was placed in removal proceedings and charged as an aggravated felon under 101(a)(43)(E)(ii) and was ordered deported by the immigration judge.
Upon appeal, Oppedisano argued that his conviction was not an offense under 101(a)(43)(E)(ii) since it did not relate to a “firearms offense” since the parenthetical in the section created a limiting clause. The Board reasoned that the offense related to a firearms offense since the quotations did not limit the offenses for which an alien could be deported.  Id. at 204. The Board added that Congressional, ascertained from the language of the statute, was not to limit the offenses under the section since it did not use restrictive language in the law. Id. The Board upheld the removal order for these reasons.