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

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Ricardo Jose Pineda-Maldonado, a native and citizen of El Salvador, sought review of a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that denied his application for asylum and claims for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). He entered the United States without inspection in 2016, following threats and physical harm from "cattle thieves" who had previously murdered his father over a gambling-related financial debt. The cattle thieves subsequently targeted Pineda-Maldonado and his brother for the father's debt and also out of fear that they would seek reprisals for their father's murder. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit determined that the BIA's denial of Pineda-Maldonado's claims was not supported by substantial evidence and failed to adequately assess the evidence presented. The court found that the BIA had failed to consider whether the threats Pineda-Maldonado received constituted past or potential future torture, and also failed to find the required nexus between the persecution Pineda-Maldonado experienced and his family status. The court granted the petition, vacated the BIA's decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Pineda-Maldonado v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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After a gang stole livestock from his Guatemalan farm and threatened his life, Juan Jose Espinoza-Ochoa fled to the United States and sought asylum based on his status as a landowning farmer. The Immigration Judge (IJ) and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied Espinoza-Ochoa's application on the grounds that he had not established that the persecution was motivated by a protected ground and that his defined social group was "impermissibly circular." The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit disagreed with these findings, stating that a social group's reference to harm does not resolve its legal validity on its own and requires further substantive analysis. The Court found that the BIA had committed legal errors both in its particular social group analysis and in failing to consider whether being a landowning farmer was a central reason for Espinoza-Ochoa's persecution. Therefore, the Court granted Espinoza-Ochoa's petition, vacated the BIA's decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Espinoza-Ochoa v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the immigration judge's (IJ) denial of Petitioner's applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief.Petitioner, who was from Nepal, sought relief based on claims that she experienced past persecution and had a well-founded fear of future persecution at the hands of Maoist insurgents on account of political opinion and membership in a particular social group, in particular, her nuclear family. The IJ granted Petitioner's application for voluntary departure but denied her claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the CAT. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the lower agencies did not err in concluding that Petitioner failed to establish that the Nepali government was unwilling or unable to protect her. View "Singh v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed the petition for review brought by Petitioner, a Kenyan national, of the decisions of an immigration judge (IJ) and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) regarding whether Petitioner was properly served by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the notice of its intent to revoke his visa petition and the ensuing official revocation, holding that there was no error.In the wake of his petition to the First Circuit challenging the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's decision denying his requested adjustment of status, USCIS sent a notice of its intent to revoke its approval of Petitioner's visa petition. At issue in this case was whether the IJ and BIA erred in finding that USCIS properly served Petitioner with its intent to revoke his visa. The First Circuit dismissed Petitioner's petition for review, holding that the agencies properly determined that notice was properly and lawfully accomplished based on applicable regulations and USCIS policy. View "Manguriu v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied a petition for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the decision of the immigration judge (IJ) to deny Petitioner's application for withholding of removal and asylum under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief.Petitioner, a citizen of Guatemala, conceded that he was removable but applied for asylum and claimed withholding of removal based on his membership in two particular social groups. The IJ denied Petitioner's applications and ordered him removed. The BIA dismissed Petitioner's appeal. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding that Petitioner failed to establish eligibility for asylum, and for the same reasons, Petitioner also failed to establish that he was entitled to withholding of removal. View "Hernandez-Mendez v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's grant of summary judgment to the United States on Petitioner's claims brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and to the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department (SCSD) on Petitioner's claims brought under the Rehabilitation Act (RHA), 29 U.S.C. 794, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12132, holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment as to Petitioner's FTCA claims.Petitioner filed this action setting forth FTCA claims against the United States based on the treatment to which he was allegedly subjected while he was in immigration custody, as well as claims brought under the RHA and the ADA based on the alleged discrimination against him owing to his disability during his detention. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit vacated the judgment in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in granting summary judgment to the United States as it pertained to Petitioner's FTCA claims; but (2) did not err in awarding summary judgment to SCSD on Petitioner's RHA and ADA claims. View "Thiersaint v. Dep't of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioners' petitions seeking judicial review of two decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) - one affirming an immigration judge's (IJ) denial of their application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), and the other denying Petitioners' motion to reopen their proceedings, holding that Petitioners were not entitled to relief.Petitioners applied for relief from removal based on China's politics, specifically persecution by Chinese officials seeking to enforce China's Family Planning Policy, which was in effect when Petitioners first entered the United States. The IJ denied Petitioners' application, concluding that they failed to meet their burden of proof. The BIA dismissed Petitioners' appeal. The First Circuit denied Petitioners' petitions for review, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the agency's decisions in this case. View "M.S.C. v. Garland" 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 decision of the immigration judge (IJ) to deny Petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that the IJ's and BIA's decisions were supported by substantial evidence.Petitioner, a member of Ecuador's Quchua indigenous group, went before the IJ seeking to avoid removal through applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT protection. The IJ denied all three forms of relief and ordered Petitioner's removal to Ecuador. The BIA affirmed the IJ's denial of relief on the merits. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner's application for asylum was appropriately denied, and therefore, withholding of removal was also appropriately denied. View "Caz v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) decision dismissing Sandra St. John's appeal from the judgment of the Immigration Judge (IJ) denying her statutory motion to reopen, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the agency's denial of St. John's statutory motion to reopen.The Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against St. John based on her conviction for mayhem in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. After going into ICE custody, St. John filed a motion in the Massachusetts superior court asking it to vacate her mayhem conviction and grant a new trial on ineffective assistance of trial grounds. St. John then moved for reopening of her removal proceedings on the grounds that her motion to vacate had rendered the mayhem conviction nonfinal for immigration purposes. The IJ denied the motion, and the BIA dismissed the appeal. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding that the agency did not abuse its discretion in declining to reopen the order of removal based on final criminal convictions. View "St. John v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the order of the immigration judge (IJ) denying Petitioner's application for asylum and withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(1)(A), 1231(b)(3)(A), as well as relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that there was no error below.Petitioner, a native and citizen of El Salvador, was charged with removability under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i), and filed an application for asylum and withholding of removal. An immigration judge (IJ) found her removable and directed El Salvador as the country for removal. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding (1) sufficient evidence supported the IJ's factual findings, and the BIA committed no errors of law in its ruling; and (2) Petitioner waived her claim regarding the BIA's denial of CAT relief. View "Montoya-Lopez v. Garland" on Justia Law