Category: Seventh Circuit

Seventh Circuit Rules that BIA Erred in Relying on Unsupported Police Reports

In a decision dated last month, the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals erred in relying on uncorroborated police reports to deny 212(c) relief. The Petitioner in the case was convicted in 1990 of a domestic abuse charge. He was subsequently arrested several times but was never convicted of anything else.  The immigration judge ruled that he was credible but denied his request for relief since he did not show that he was rehabilitated. The BIA affirmed the immigration judge’s decision reasoning that even though the case was a “close call”, the Respondent did not show that he was rehabilitated. The court, in reversing the BIA’s decision, reasoned that the Board did not follow its own binding decision in Arreguin, 21 I&N Dec. 38 (BIA 1995) and thus the case was denied improperly. The court ruled that since the police reports were uncorroborated, they should not have been used as a basis to deny relief in the case. The case is Avila-Ramirez v. Holder

Seventh Circuit Rules that Hearsay Evidence Violates Due Process

In a decision issued last month, the Seventh Circuit ruled that admission of highly unreliable hearsay evidence by the immigration judge violated an immigrant’s due process rights. Pouhova is a Bulgarian citizen who applied for adjustment of status but was placed in removal proceedings in 2007.  One of the removal grounds was allegedly assisting an alien enter the US illegally in violation of  8 USC 1227(a)(1)(E)(i).

 

To prove deportability, the Service introduced the affidavit of another person who allegedly used her passport to enter the US in 2000 and the affidavit of the officer who interviewed that person at the airport prepared in 2007.  Pouhova challenged the admission of these documents since she was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses. The immigration judge admitted the documents over these objections, sustained the charge, and ordered her removed. The BIA upheld the decision.
 
In reversing the BIA’s decision and ordering a new hearing, the Seventh Circuit reasoned that Pouhova’s due process rights were violated since the documents were not reliable and since she was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.
 
I have run into this problem before, where the government tried to admit documents without producing the declarant. I currently have a case pending before the Board on the same issue. The case is a case of first impression in the Eleventh Circuit. I will keep you updated.