Category: Supreme Court

Travel ban ninth circuit decision

The Ninth Circuit Made the Right Decision: Now What?

The Ninth Circuit travel ban decision has now dealt another blow to the Executive Order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. This decision is the latest in a series of decisions that have upheld the restraining order against the ban. I believe that this decision is the right decision, however, I do believe that the Justice Department has made a mistake in appealing the case to the Supreme Court, which I would discuss below.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision is a reiteration of its previous decision dealing with the issue. The Ninth Circuit, in essence, said that the President and the Administration did not articulate a rational basis for the ban, which is a classification based on religion. The decision goes through all of the Administration’s arguments to support and the ban, and, one by one, the Court struck them down. The Court did allow the enhanced vetting procedures to go forward, which, in due time, would be in court. I believe that these procedures will also be unconstitutional based on the procedures once they are released.

  • Why Did the Administration Make a Mistake? 

I believe that the Administration made a mistake in asking the Supreme Court to review the restraining order decisions from two different cases. It is worth noting that the two courts, at least the Fourth Circuit, is not a bastion of liberal jurisprudence. This, in my opinion, would make a decision overruling the restraining orders much more difficult.

It is also worth noting that in a case called United States v. Texas, which reviewed President Obama’s Executive Order upheld the lower court’s decision enjoining the order based on the same grounds the new order was restrained. In that decision, the Supreme Court upheld the restraining order from the Fifth Circuit. That case held that the states had standing to challenge President Obama’s Executive Order granting relief from removal for millions of undocumented immigrants. I do not believe that there has been a shift in the law to change that decision. The Administration is sure to challenge jurisdiction based on state standing. Moreover, the chances of the Supreme Court granting certiorari to review the lower courts’ decision have diminished because of that binding prior decision.

I believe that the Administration should have waited for a ruling on the merits to appeal to the Supreme Court.

  • Why Are the Vetting Procedures Problematic? 

I believe that the vetting procedures will also be a problem under this administration. Unfortunately, we will not be able to know them until there are regulations dealing with these procedures are published. Then, immigration attorneys and the public at large would be able to review them. There will be legal challenges to the procedures if they were based on discriminatory criteria.

We now await the Supreme Court’s decision on whether it will take the case.

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

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Suppressing Evidence in Removal Proceedings

One of the biggest problems in removal proceedings is the limited circumstances under which a respondent could challenge the government’s evidence. Usually the Service tries to introduce unreliable evidence to support the respondent’s deportability. I have had several cases when the government tried t o introduce hearsay statements from unnamed sources. The problem is that the Supreme Court has ruled that removal proceedings are civil in nature, decreasing the protections aliens receive. As a result the respondent would be unable to the Fourth Amendment to suppress evidence. A respondent could use the Fifth Amendment to suppress evidence if the evidence is unreliable and its introduction would be fundamentally unfair.  I have used the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause to suppress evidence in removal proceedings before.
However, several circuits have applied the Fourth Amendment to suppress or even terminate removal proceedings. These cases are limited to egregious cases where the Service violates a respondent’s protected rights. The BIA has recently terminated proceedings where the Service committed these violations.
My dream is to argue a case where I would challenge the Supreme Court’s determination that removal proceedings are civil. I believe that this classification is erroneous. Removal proceedings have become more sophisticated and more aliens are being removed for criminal violations. These respondents deserve to receive Due Process if they are being banished from the country.       

Supreme Court to Review Child Status Protection Act Case

The Supreme Court has just announced that it will review a case relating to the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). CSPA prevents a visa beneficiary from “aging out” for visa purposes. A beneficiary can not take advantage of a visa petition approved on behalf of his parent, if he turns 21 before his parent’s adjustment of status.  
At issue in Mayorkas v. De Osorio is the provision of CSPA that allows a beneficiary to retain his original priority date and whether it applies to other visa categories. The BIA had ruled in Matter of Wang that the automatic conversion only applies to F2A petitions. The Ninth Circuit had ruled that such ruling was contrary to the regulations. The Service has appealed the decision and the Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction this week.
I hope that court’s decision will shed some light on one of the most convoluted immigration laws. I look forward to reading it next year.  

BIA Rules that DOMA is no Longer a Bar to the Approval of Same-Sex Petitions

In a decision issued on Wednesday, the BIA remanded an immigrant visa petition to the District Director because DOMA is no longer a bar to the approval of same-sex petitions. In Matter of Zeleniak26 I&N Dec. 158 (BIA 2013), a United States citizen petitioned for his spouse. The District Director denied the petition in 2010 and he appealed to the BIA. The BIA remanded the petition to address some issues, the Director issued a second denial and the Petitioner appealed the second denial. 

The Director had ruled that the same-sex couple had a valid marriage but the petition could not have been approved because of Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited immigration benefits to same-sex couples. In remanding the petition to the District Director, the BIA reasoned that the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 2695-96 (2013), removed the former prohibition under Section 3 of DOMA to the approval of same-sex immigration petitions. Thus, the BIA remanded the petition to the District Director for further consideration.


This is a monumental decision, since the decision is binding on USCIS when adjudicating immigrant visa petitions. It is also binding on all immigration judges around the nation.  These are the first effects of the Supreme Court’s decision which will affect the ways that immigration practitioners will tackle immigration cases. 

Motions to Reopen Removal Proceedings Under Vartelas

Congress passed an overhaul of immigration law in 1996. These changes became known as IIRIRA, short for the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Reform Act of 1996. One of the most important changes in that law was the changes in relief available for lawful permanent residents. One of the most prevalent forms of relief before the law was the availability of the INA 212(c) waiver, a form of relief that waived almost all forms of criminal convictions. The Supreme Court ruled in INS v. St. Cyr that the relief was retroactive, in other words it was still available for aliens who entered into criminal pleas before 1996, relying on the availability for that form of relief in immigration court. Another change was the change in the definition of “admission” under the Act. 

In  Vartelas , the main issue was whether the pre-IIRIRA definition of “admission” still applied to lawful permanent residents with pre-IIRIRA  convictions, when returning from a casual trip abroad. Vartelas  was a permanent resident who was classified as seeking admission after his return to the United States from a short trip abroad, because of a 1994 conviction. Vartelas  argued that the definition of “admission” under IIRIRA did not apply to him and the pre-IIRIRA definition should apply. Pre-IIRIRA, courts used the Fleuti doctrine, where a lawful permanent resident returning from a casual trip abroad was not classified as an applicant for admission.  In ruling that Vartelas  was not an applicant for admission, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fleuti doctrine was applicable to Vartelas’  case since IIRIRA’s definition of admission was not retroactive. Thus, the court reversed the removal order and remanded the case to the circuit court. 
The case can be used to reopen removal proceedings where the IIRIRA definition of “admission” was applied to cases where the alien pleaded guilty to a criminal charge before IIRIRA. The case should be reopened at the last court which had administrative control. You should contact an experienced immigration attorney to help you reopen your removal case if you believe that the case could help you. 

The Impact of Supreme Court’s Upcoming Decision on Same-Sex Couples

As we await the Supreme Court’s decision regarding same sex marriage laws and California’s proposition 8, I thought I should post some notes on the potential implications of such decision in the immigration arena. Regardless of what the Supreme Court rules, the decision will sure have important implications on same sex couples with at least one immigrant partner. 
Under the current law, the Defense of Marriage Act denies federal benefits, including immigration benefits, to same sex couples. In other words, a partner in a same sex couple can not petition for another partner in a same sex relationship. This is an unfortunate limitation, especially in abusive relationships where one partner might be abusing another, and the immigrant partner is left with little or no recourse to stay in the United States. For example, the current law does not allow an abused partner to apply for benefits under the Violence Against Women Act, but might allow the alien to be the beneficiary of a U visa, which is a visa specifically allocated to victims of crimes. However, due to the reluctance of law enforcement to certify these petitions, and the potential dangerous implications on the abused spouse the chances for such a visa dwindle, and a abused partner might have no recourse at all when it comes to immigration benefits. One of the best things regarding VAWA is that the petition is reviewed by special agents at the Vermont Service Center, with the highest levels of confidentiality and protection. These same safeguards do not exist in the U visa procedures, and the abused spouse might have to testify against the abusive one. We all know the potential dangers that come with such testimony. These dangers will lead the abused spouse to stay away from reporting the abuse and will ultimately lead to a denial of immigration benefits. 
The Supreme Court’s ruling will be cataclysmic decision when it comes to federal benefits for same sex couples under federal law. I believe that the current law is unfair and should be struck down, since it creates two groups that are not equal under the law. I hope that the Supreme Court will do the right things and strike down DOMA. I just read on CNN that the decision will be announced tomorrow; I am keeping my fingers crossed.