Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision concluding that petitioner was removeable and denial of his request for a form of cancellation of removal available to children who have been battered by parents who are lawful permanent residents. The court concluded that petitioner failed to exhaust his claim that the BIA engaged in improper fact finding, the issue is not before the court, and the issue will not be considered. Although the court has jurisdiction to review the predicate legal question whether the Board properly applied the law in determining eligibility, the court lacked jurisdiction to review an ultimate decision denying cancellation of removal as a matter of discretion. View "Mencia-Medina v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the IJ's decision denying petitioner's request for cancellation of removal. The court concluded that the substitution of an immigration judge did not violate petitioner's due process rights. In this case, the second immigration judge not only stated that she had familiarized herself with the record but also elaborated on pertinent facts in that record. The court also concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review petitioner's challenge to the BIA's discretionary decision to deny his request for cancellation of removal. View "Avendano-Elvira v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's application for cancellation of removal. The court concluded that the substitution of immigration judges between the removal hearing and the decision did not violate the text of 8 U.S.C. 1229a(a)(1) nor petitioner's due process rights. The court explained that the phrase "the immigration judge" used in subsequent clauses simply refers to whichever immigration judge is conducting that part of the removal proceedings; the phrase does not require that the first immigration judge oversee the case from initiation to completion. Furthermore, the judge who wrote the decision fully complied with the governing regulations. Finally, petitioner failed to establish a due process right. View "Orpinel-Robledo v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's order determining that petitioner was removable because his prior conviction for enticing a minor under Iowa law was a "crime of child abuse." Applying the categorical approach, the court concluded that the Board's decision cannot be upheld on the rationale advanced by the government because it conflates two separate elements in the Iowa statute. Looking only at the plain text of the Iowa statute, the court cannot exclude the possibility that an offender could be prosecuted for enticing a minor with intent to commit disorderly conduct or harassment upon a minor. Furthermore, the Board's decision is not clear about how it understood the "realistic probability" requirement. Accordingly, the court vacated the Board's decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Pah Peh v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff in an action brought against several officials under the Administrative Procedure Act. The district court concluded that the doctrine of issue preclusion barred the government's rationale for denying plaintiff's application for adjustment of status.The court concluded that the disputed issue of whether plaintiff solicited funds for a terrorist organization was not actually litigated in an earlier proceeding, and thus issue preclusion does not apply. In this case, the record shows that whether plaintiff was inadmissible because he solicited funds for a terrorist organization was not raised, contested, and submitted for determination in the 2001 asylum proceeding. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Fofana v. Mayorkas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The court concluded that substantial evidence supported the IJ's specific, cogent reasons for finding that petitioner's testimony was not credible.In this case, the IJ identified petitioner's inconsistency regarding the year her relationship began with her abusive boyfriend; pointed to contradictions about her living arrangements with him; noted her omission, until the hearing, of his shooting at her house; mentioned her failure to describe, until the hearing, the gang ambush; cited her failure to indicate, until the hearing, that he was a member of a gang; noted that her mother's letter of support mentioned only one pregnancy and did not mention any threat from the boyfriend; detailed discrepancies between petitioner's statement and the medical records she submitted; and determined that she was nonresponsive to the question asked of her during the hearing. View "Coto-Albarenga v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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After USCIS denied plaintiff's I-485 application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident under 8 U.S.C. 1255(m), plaintiff filed suit in the District of Minnesota and filed a motion for a preliminary injunction setting aside the effective date of the denial. Plaintiff had previously submitted a U-nonimmigrant status (I-918) application and an application for waiver of inadmissibility (I-192). The district court denied the motion, concluding that 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2)(B)(i) deprived the court of subject matter jurisdiction to review the agency’s denial of discretionary adjustment of status relief.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction to grant the requested preliminary injunction. The court agreed with the district court that, based on the plain language of section 1252(a)(2)(B)(i), the court has no jurisdiction to review the underlying denial of plaintiff's adjustment of status under section 1255(m). In this case, the statutory substantive ground on which USCIS based its denial of plaintiff's I-485 application -- his failure to establish that adjustment of status is warranted on humanitarian grounds, to ensure family unity, or is otherwise in the public interest -- is a discretionary determination governed by section 1252(a)(2)(B)(i), like determinations to deny cancellation of removal under section 1229b(b) because removal would not cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a U.S. citizen family member. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's remaining unconstitutional deprivation claim because there is no constitutionally protected liberty interest in discretionary relief under the Immigration and Nationality Act. View "J.M.O. v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied petitions for review challenging the BIA's decision denying petitioner's applications for withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The court concluded that the district court did not err in denying petitioner's claim for withholding of removal based on petitioner's membership in "tattooed Guatemalan youths" and "people who promised to remove their tattoos years ago but did not," because petitioner failed to establish a nexus between his claimed fear and his social group. In this case, petitioner was no longer a member of the first proposed social group and his second social group lacks social distinction. The court also concluded that the Board did not err by adopting the IJ's conclusion that it was reasonable to expect petitioner to relocate within Guatemala to avoid a vigilante group. The court further concluded that the Board did not err in rejecting petitioner's CAT claim where petitioner could relocate to avoid the group and there was no evidence that Guatemala acquiesced in any torture performed by the group. View "Bautista-Bautista v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review challenging the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for asylum and withholding of removal. The court concluded that the BIA's decision to review the factual issue for clear error was correct.The court also concluded that, even if the court assumed that petitioner suffered harm that amounted to past persecution, the court would still conclude that it was not motivated by her membership in a particular social group. In this case, the record shows that petitioner was targeted because the individual that threatened her father assumed that she owned the land that once belonged to her father—not because she was related to him. Finally, petitioner failed to establish a well-founded fear of future persecution because she failed to carry her burden of demonstrating that she could not relocate in Honduras. View "Padilla-Franco v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit dismissed the petition for review of the BIA's order finding petitioner inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(C) based on lack of jurisdiction. Under section 1182(a)(2)(C)(i), a non citizen is inadmissible to the United States if "the Attorney General knows or has reason to believe" that the noncitizen is or has been either "an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance," or "a knowing aider, abettor, assister, conspirator, or colluder with others" in such trafficking.The court agreed with the BIA that section 1182(a)(2)(C)'s "reason to believe" language requires a finding of probable cause. In this case, the court concluded that there is substantial evidence in the record to support the BIA's conclusion that there was probable cause to believe petitioner was involved in illicit drug trafficking. Therefore, petitioner is inadmissible under section 1182(a)(2)(C) and thus the court lacked jurisdiction over the petition for review. View "Rojas v. Garland" on Justia Law