Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of reentry after deportation and to dismiss the indictment, holding that the immigration court did not lack jurisdiction. In moving to withdraw his plea and dismiss the indictment, Appellant argued that the removal order underlying his conviction had been rendered null and void. Specifically, Appellant argued that because his notice to appear did not specify the date or time of the removal hearing the immigration court lacked jurisdiction to issue the removal order. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Appellant did not satisfy the prerequisites set forth in 8 U.S.C. 1326(d) for collaterally attacking the removal order. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Goncalves Pontes v. Barr, 938 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2019) controlled, and Appellant's jurisdictional argument failed. View "United States v. Mendoza-Sanchez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing Petitioner's appeal of the immigration judge's (IJ) claims for relief and ordering her removed to El Salvador, holding that the IJ denied Petitioner her statutory right to be represented by the counsel of her choice. Petitioner, a native and citizen of El Salvador, entered the United States without being admitted or paroled. Over the course of her removal proceedings, Petitioner retained an attorney, lost that attorney, and attempted to find another to assist her in presenting the merits of her claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ denied relief. Petitioner appealed and filed a motion to reopen and remand. The BIA dismissed the appeal, denied Petitioner's motion, and ordered her removed to El Salvador. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's order and remanded the matter, holding that the IJ failing to meaningfully effectuate Petitioner's statutory right to counsel, and the assistance of a lawyer likely would have affected the outcome of Petitioner's removal proceedings. View "Hernandez Lara v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner's motion to reopen sua sponte his immigration proceedings, holding that the BIA departed from his settled course of adjudication and that remand was required consistent with this opinion. Petitioner argued that the BIA clearly erred when it determined that he was not entitled to relief from deportation under section 237(a)(2)(A)(vi) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(vi) (the Pardon Waiver Clause). In making its determination, the BIA concluded that a pardon issued by the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles is "not effective for purposes of establishing entitlement to" a waiver of deportation. The First Circuit held (1) this Court has jurisdiction to review colorable legal and constitutional challenges to denials of motions to reopen sua sponte; and (2) the BIA departed from its settled course of adjudication by deeming a pardon from Connecticut insufficient under the Pardon Waiver Clause. View "Thompson v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the immigration judge's decision denying Petitioner's claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) and ordering Petitioner removed, holding that Petitioner's arguments lacked merit. In finding that Petitioner did not meet his burden to show eligibility for any of the grounds for relief he sought the immigration judge (IJ) concluded that Petitioner was not credible for several reasons. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the IJ's adverse credibility determination was supported by substantial evidence; (2) the introduction of law enforcement gang database records did not violate Petitioner's due process rights; and (3) even if the BIA erred in applying the wrong legal standard in its analysis of Petitioner's CAT claim, any such error would be harmless. View "Diaz Ortiz v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition seeking review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) denial of her untimely motion to reopen her family's removal proceedings, holding that the BIA's denial of Petitioner's motion to reopen was not an abuse of discretion. Petitioner, a native and citizen of Indonesia, applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture for her herself, her husband, and her two daughters. An immigration judge denied the application, and the BIA affirmed. Six years later, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen the removal proceedings. The BIA denied the motion as untimely. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA's decision not to reopen the proceedings was neither arbitrary nor capricious. View "Sutarsim v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that the requirements for establishing membership in a particular social group in support of a request for asylum or withholding of removal do not categorically preclude applicants from successfully relying on any group defined in material part as women "unable to leave" a domestic relationship. Petitioner, a native and citizen of the Dominican Republic, sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Petitioner alleged that her former domestic partner and the father of her son abused her in the past, will abuse her in the future, and will remain unfettered by Dominican law enforcement authorities. The immigration judge ruled against Petitioner in part on claimed inadequacy of the tendered social groups. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed. The First Circuit remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the BIA's holding that Petitioner's claim necessarily failed because the groups to which she claimed to belong were necessarily deficient was arbitrary and unexamined. View "De Pena-Paniagua v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the United States and the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (collectively, the Government) on Plaintiff's claims that the inclusion of the phrase "so help me God" at the end of the both of allegiance administered at United States naturalization ceremonies is unlawful and unconstitutional, holding that the district court correctly denied Plaintiff's claims. In her complaint, Plaintiff argued that the inclusion of "so help me God" as a means of completing the naturalization oath violates the First and Fifth Amendments and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-2000bb-4 (RFRA). The district court granted summary judgment on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the phrase "so help me God" in the oath does not violate the Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, the RFRA, Equal Protection, or the Due Process Clause. View "Perrier-Bilbo v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling in favor of the Rhode Island municipalities on their suit seeking to invalidate the conditions that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) imposed on the cities in connection with the allocation of federal law enforcement grants, holding that the DOJ lacked authority to imposed the challenged conditions. When state and local governments refused to assist wholeheartedly in federal enforcement of immigration-related laws, the DOJ purposed to condition unrelated federal law enforcement grants on the provision of the governments' assistance with the enforcement of the immigration-related laws. Two Rhode Island cities - Providence and Central Falls - brought this suit seeking to enjoin the DOJ from imposing the challenged conditions on their grants. The district court granted summary judgment for the Cities, concluding that the DLJ exceeded its statutory authority in imposing the challenge conditions on the grants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the DOJ was not vested with the authority to impose the challenged conditions on the Cities' grants. View "City of Providence v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner's motion to reopen his immigration case, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying Petitioner's motion to reopen on the grounds that Petitioner did not establish changed country conditions. Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala who illegally entered the United States and was later placed in removal proceedings, applied for asylum and withholding of removal on the grounds that he feared gang violence upon his return to Guatemala. The immigration judge (IJ) denied Petitioner's applications. The BIA dismissed Petitioner's appeal, agreeing with the conclusion of the IJ that Petitioner had not shown that he would more likely than not suffer persecution upon his return to Guatemala. Petitioner later moved the BIA to reopen his case, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and that country conditions in Guatemala had substantially changed. The BIA denied Petitioner's motion to reopen. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA did not err in declining to equitably toll the ninety-day statutory filing deadline and in concluding that Petitioner had not demonstrated that country conditions in Guatemala had substantially changed since his hearing. View "Molina v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the denial by an immigration judge (IJ) of his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that the BIA's decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record. Petitioner applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT. Thereafter, Petitioner was placed in removal proceedings. The IJ denied Petitioner's applications and ordered his removal. The BIA affirmed the IJ's decision. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding (1) the denial of Petitioner's asylum application was supported by substantial record evidence; (2) because Petitioner could not succeed on his asylum claim his claim for withholding of removal was properly denied; and (3) Petitioner's claim regarding the denial of CAT protection was waived. View "Gao v. Barr" on Justia Law