Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
by
Arjun KC, a native and citizen of Nepal, sought asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in the United States. He claimed that Maoist partisans in Nepal threatened to kill him unless he supported their party. KC argued that these threats constituted past persecution and that this past persecution should give rise to a presumption of future persecution if he were to return to Nepal.The Immigration Judge (IJ) found KC credible but concluded that he had not demonstrated past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution. The IJ denied his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT relief. KC appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which affirmed the IJ's decision without opinion.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the case and agreed with the IJ and BIA. The court held that death threats alone do not automatically constitute past persecution. Instead, such threats must be sufficiently imminent, concrete, or menacing to qualify as persecution. The court found that the threats against KC were not sufficiently imminent or concrete to constitute past persecution. Additionally, KC did not provide other evidence to demonstrate a well-founded fear of future persecution. Consequently, the court denied KC's petition for review and affirmed the BIA's decision ordering his removal. View "KC v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
Maximo Robert Vera Punin, a citizen of Ecuador, was ordered removed by immigration authorities after being convicted in state court of multiple counts involving the rape of a young child. He is currently serving a 25-year prison term and faces deportation upon completion of his sentence. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) served him with a notice to appear in September 2020, charging him with being a removable alien under various sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act. DHS submitted a Form I-213 to prove his alienage, which listed detailed personal information and his previous removal from the United States.The Immigration Judge (IJ) admitted the I-213 over Vera Punin’s objection, finding it sufficient to prove his alienage by clear and convincing evidence. The IJ sustained the charges of removability and ordered Vera Punin removed to Ecuador. Vera Punin appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), arguing that the I-213 was unreliable and should not have been admitted. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s decision, holding that the I-213 was inherently trustworthy and sufficient to establish his alienage.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the case. The court concluded that Vera Punin did not exhaust his argument that the agency failed to explain its reasoning, and thus lacked authority to consider this claim. The court held that the I-213 is presumptively reliable and capable of proving alienage by clear and convincing evidence, and Vera Punin did not rebut that presumption. The court also found that the presumption of reliability afforded to an I-213 does not impermissibly shift the burden of proof away from the government. Additionally, the court determined that the temporary Appellate Immigration Judge was properly appointed by the Attorney General. Consequently, the petition for review was denied in part and dismissed in part. View "Punin v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
Shlomo Bador, an Israeli citizen, received conditional permanent resident status in the U.S. based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen. Two years later, he and his wife filed a joint petition to remove the conditions on his status. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspected the marriage was fraudulent. After interviewing Bador’s wife, she withdrew her support for the petition, leading to the automatic termination of Bador’s conditional status. Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sought to remove Bador, and he conceded his removability.An Immigration Judge (IJ) reviewed the case, where Bador requested a good-faith waiver, claiming his marriage was genuine but had ended in divorce. During the hearing, Bador admitted the marriage was fraudulent, having paid his wife and a broker to secure his status. The IJ denied the good-faith waiver and ruled Bador ineligible for a fraud waiver under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(H), which applies to aliens charged with being inadmissible at the time of admission due to fraud. The IJ found that Bador’s removal was based on the termination of his conditional status, not the fraud itself.The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upheld the IJ’s decision, agreeing that Bador could not use the fraud waiver to excuse his failure to file a joint petition. The BIA dismissed his appeal, leading Bador to petition the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for review.The Second Circuit denied Bador’s petition, holding that he was ineligible for the fraud waiver. The court concluded that Bador’s removal was due to the termination of his conditional status for failing to file a joint petition, not because of his fraudulent marriage. Therefore, the fraud waiver under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(H) did not apply. View "Bador v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
Miguel Angel Garcia Carrera, a nonpermanent resident and citizen of Mexico, sought to cancel his removal from the United States. Garcia Carrera argued that his removal would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his U.S. citizen daughter. The Department of Homeland Security had placed him in removal proceedings after he entered the U.S. without inspection. Garcia Carrera had been in the U.S. since 2005, with a brief return to Mexico in 2005. His removal proceedings began in 2012 following an arrest for driving while intoxicated.The Immigration Judge (IJ) initially denied Garcia Carrera's application for cancellation of removal, concluding that he had not demonstrated the requisite hardship to his daughter. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed this decision, agreeing that Garcia Carrera failed to establish the necessary hardship as his daughter, who would remain in the U.S. with her mother, had no serious physical or mental disabilities. Garcia Carrera, proceeding without counsel, appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.The Second Circuit, following the Supreme Court's decision in Wilkinson v. Garland, confirmed that it had jurisdiction to review Garcia Carrera's claim. The court considered both the IJ's and the BIA's decisions and found no error in the agency's conclusion that Garcia Carrera failed to demonstrate the requisite hardship. The court noted that the IJ correctly stated the applicable legal standards and addressed the hardships that Garcia Carrera claimed his daughter would suffer. The court also found no indication that the IJ failed to consider other relevant evidence. Therefore, the court denied Garcia Carrera's petition for review. View "Garcia Carrera v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
The case revolves around Aleksandra Malgorzata Stankiewicz, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, who was convicted in 2003 for violating a New Jersey statute that criminalizes distributing a controlled substance on or near school property. In 2018, removal proceedings were initiated against her, with the immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) concluding that her conviction was an aggravated felony, making her both removable and ineligible to apply for cancellation of removal.The BIA dismissed Stankiewicz's appeal, maintaining its reasoning that her conviction was an aggravated felony. Stankiewicz then petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for review of the BIA's decision.The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that Stankiewicz's conviction under the New Jersey statute is not an "aggravated felony" under federal law. The court applied the "categorical approach," comparing the state law to any federal controlled substance offense that is a felony subject to a prison sentence greater than one year. The court found that neither of the parties' proposed federal analogs categorically matches the New Jersey statute. The court therefore granted Stankiewicz's petition for review, vacated the agency’s ruling, and remanded the case to the BIA for further proceedings. View "Stankiewicz v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
This case involves two legal permanent residents, Carol Williams Black and Keisy G.M., who were detained by the U.S. government for several months without a bond hearing under the authority of 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c), pending the conclusion of their separate removal proceedings. Black and G.M. each sought habeas relief, asserting that their prolonged detentions without any bond hearing violated their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. The district court granted Black's petition and he was released, while G.M.'s petition was denied.In the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the court concluded that the constitutional guarantee of due process precludes a noncitizen’s unreasonably prolonged detention under section 1226(c) without a bond hearing. The court affirmed the district court’s judgment granting habeas relief to Black, concluding that the district court properly required the government to show the necessity of his continued detention by clear and convincing evidence. As to G.M., the court concluded that his detention had become unreasonably prolonged and reversed the district court’s judgment denying habeas relief. View "Black v. Decker" on Justia Law

by
The case in question involves a defendant, Saba Rosario Ventura, who was initially detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after the District Court ordered his release on bail pending his criminal trial. The District Court later dismissed the indictment against Ventura, arguing that ICE had detained him in bad faith, aiming to circumvent the bail order. The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which previously remanded the case to the District Court to clarify whether it had found that ICE's detention of Ventura was a direct violation of a federal court order releasing him under the Bail Reform Act.On remand, the District Court reasserted its claim that ICE's detention of Ventura was pretextual and in bad faith, not for removal, but to detain him pending his criminal trial. However, the Court of Appeals disagreed, finding no substantial evidence to support the District Court's assertion. The Court of Appeals noted that the District Court's finding was based on legal arguments rather than factual evidence. It also noted that, even if ICE disagreed with the District Court's assessment of Ventura's risk of flight, it was not enough to prove that ICE's detention was pretextual.The Court of Appeals ultimately reversed the District Court's orders, concluding that the finding of ICE's pretextual and bad faith detention of Ventura was clearly erroneous, given the lack of factual evidence. View "United States v. Ventura" on Justia Law

by
Kwok Sum Wong, a citizen of China and Hong Kong native, petitioned for review of a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming a decision by an Immigration Judge (IJ) that found him removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The IJ had found Wong removable because he had been “convicted” of “two crimes involving moral turpitude.” Wong's offenses were theft by deception under New Jersey law and second-degree forgery under New York law. The BIA determined that a "conviction" under immigration law hinges on whether the offenses were criminal proceedings with “minimum constitutional protections”, including proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and certain rights such as the right to a speedy trial and protection against double jeopardy.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the BIA’s interpretation of “conviction” was not arbitrary or capricious and that the “minimum constitutional protections” test to ascertain a “conviction” retroactively applies to Wong’s case. The court further held that second-degree forgery under New York law is a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), and that the statutory phrase “crime involving moral turpitude” is not unconstitutionally vague. The court thus denied the petition for review. View "Wong v. Garland" on Justia Law

by
In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the Immigration Judge (IJ) to deny asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention against Torture (CAT) to the petitioner, Baljinder Singh Bhagtana. Bhagtana, an Indian national, claimed political persecution by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) due to his support for the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar or “Mann” Party and his Sikh religious affiliation. He claimed that he suffered three attacks by BJP members in Kapurthala, Punjab, which resulted in serious injuries and forced him to relocate within India on two occasions.Both the BIA and the IJ determined that Bhagtana could avoid future persecution by relocating within India, as he had done previously without incident. Bhagtana argued that he was safe in these new locations because he was "living in hiding," but this argument was rejected, as activities such as driving a taxicab and attending Mann party meetings contradicted his claim of being in hiding.The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower courts, noting that Bhagtana lived in two different cities in India without harm despite continuing his political activities. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of State’s 2016 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in India did not suggest that members of the Mann Party or Sikhs advocating for a sovereign Sikh state were victims of persecution. The Court of Appeals held that the record did not compel a conclusion contrary to the BIA and IJ's findings that Bhagtana could safely and reasonably relocate within India to avoid persecution. The Court of Appeals therefore denied Bhagtana's petition for review and affirmed the decisions of the BIA and the IJ. View "Singh Bhagtana v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, seeks a review of an April 20, 2022, decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirming a decision of an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) ordering her removal and denying her application for cancellation of removal after determining she had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”). That conviction, for abuse of a corpse in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated (“ACA”) Section 5-60-101, stemmed from concealing her child’s body in a closet after he was murdered. In her petition for review, Petitioner argued that the BIA and IJ erred because her conviction under ACA Section 5-60-101 is not categorically a CIMT.   The Second Circuit granted the petition, vacated the BIA’s order of removal and remanded. The court explained that the language of ACA Section 5-60-101(a)(1) allows someone to be convicted if he or she knowingly “removes” or “disinters” a corpse, no matter the reason and without regard to whether it is done in a manner offensive to a person of reasonable sensibilities. The court explained that the broad language makes it clear that one can be convicted under the statute for conduct that is not “inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.” Thus, because ACA Section 5-60-101 criminalizes conduct that is not invariably vile or depraved, a conviction under the statute cannot categorically be considered a CIMT. The BIA did not conduct an elements-based categorical inquiry. Instead, it applied an inapposite “realistic probability” test. View "Giron-Molina v. Garland" on Justia Law