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

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Whether a conviction for a particular state offense qualifies as a basis for removability as an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) is a question of law under de novo review. The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's final order of removal. The BIA granted DHS's appeal of an IJ's order granting petitioner deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Eighth Circuit held that defendant's conviction for willful injury causing bodily harm was a crime of violence in satisfaction of 18 U.S.C. 16(a) and a valid basis for removal under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) because it was impossible to cause bodily injury without applying the force necessary to cause the injury. The court held that the BIA conducted a logical, clear error analysis and reached a permissible conclusion. View "Jima v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Petitioners appealed the BIA's denial of their motion to reconsider the IJ's denial of their applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Eighth Circuit held that circuit precedent, Ali v. Barr, 924 F.3d 983 (8th Cir. 2019), foreclosed petitioners' claim that the IJ lacked jurisdiction over their removal proceedings because the proceedings commenced with notices to appear that did not specify the date or time of their removal hearings. The court also held that the filing of a motion to reconsider does not toll the time for appeal of the underlying order; the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to reconsider where the agency applied the proper standard and considered petitioners' contentions; and the BIA did not commit legal error or abuse its discretion when it denied petitioners' motion to reconsider the denial of CAT relief and its analysis of their torture claim was not inconsistent with the court's binding precedent. In this case, there was no evidence that the police official provided evidence to the Mara 18 gang, was aware that this act would result in torture, and thereafter breached his legal responsibility to intervene to prevent such activity. View "Rodriguez de Henriquez v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order denying cancellation of removal and ordering petitioner removed, and subsequently denying his timely motion to reopen proceedings. The court held that petitioner was challenging the discretionary conclusion of the BIA against him and thus the court did not have jurisdiction. The court also held that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to reopen, because the BIA had the final authority to decide whether to grant discretionary cancellation-of-removal relief. View "Urrutia Robles v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision finding petitioner ineligible for cancellation of removal because he sustained a prior conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude when he was convicted of theft by receiving in violation of Nebraska law. The court also held that Ali v. Barr, 924 F.3d 983, 986 (8th Cir. 2019), foreclosed petitioner's claim that neither the IJ nor the BIA had subject matter jurisdiction over his removal proceedings, because the initial notice to appear served on petitioner did not include information about when and where to appear. View "Inzunza Reyna v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioner's untimely motion to reopen. The court agreed with the Second Circuit's rejection of the argument that denial of an unopposed non-frivolous motion to reopen is presumptively an abuse of discretion because the burden is on the movant to establish his entitlement to reopening and there is no statutory or regulatory requirement that the Government file an opposition. The court held that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in ruling on the merits of petitioner's motion. The court also held that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in concluding that petitioner failed to show that former counsel's incompetence prejudiced his asylum and withholding of removal claims. Furthermore, there was no abuse of discretion in denying petitioner equitable tolling for his 17 month delay for filing the motion to reopen. Finally, there was no constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment to effective assistance of counsel in a removal proceeding. View "Mwangi v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioner's request for asylum and/or withholding removal. The court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's finding that petitioner failed to establish that she suffered past persecution. In this case, although petitioner experienced the tragic loss of her father and brother, her family's disappearance without explanation did not rise to the level of persecution. Rather, the evidence established that her father and brother's kidnappings were the result of criminal activity in the area by persons seeking wealth. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's finding that petitioner's stated fears of future persecution were not objectively reasonable where her family continues to reside in Honduras unharmed. Finally, substantial evidence supported the BIA's denial of withholding removal. View "Mejia-Ramos v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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In 1988, petitioner filed an application for Temporary Resident Status as a Special Agricultural Worker. Over thirty years later, he petitioned to hold that the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) erred in denying his appeal for failure to comply with the agency deadline. The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review and held that equitable tolling was not appropriate on the facts of petitioner's case. The court held that, regardless of whether petitioner was living at the record address at the time INS sent the notice, his failure to receive it was not an extraordinary circumstance because either updating the agency with a correct address or more closely monitoring the mail were within his control. Furthermore, even if petitioner could establish he did not receive the notice due to a genuinely extraordinary, unavoidable circumstance, the extended lapses in time were evidence that he failed to diligently pursue his rights. View "Capiz-Fabian v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the determination that petitioner was removable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) because he was convicted in Iowa of committing an aggravated felony. Determining that it had jurisdiction, the court held that DHS was correct when it concluded that petitioner's Iowa forgery conviction qualified as an aggravated felony for purposes of section 1227(a)(2)(iii). The court held that, although DHS erred by issuing a Final Administrative Removal Order before petitioner's deadline to respond expired, petitioner failed to show prejudice. In this case, petitioner's state law crime unarguably qualified as an aggravated felony and there was nothing petitioner could have offered that would change the result. View "Salazar v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal of an IJ's order denying asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court held that the IJ relied on personal beliefs and perceived common knowledge to reach unfounded adverse conclusions regarding petitioner's faith, and the IJ gave no weight to translation issues in the proceeding. Consequently, the IJ's credibility determinations were not supported by cogent reasons for disbelief and the BIA erred in upholding these findings. The panel vacated the removal order and remanded for a new credibility determination. View "Jinfeng Tian v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision upholding the IJ's determination that petitioner was removable. The court held that petitioner failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with regard to his challenge to the determination that his firearm offense was a particularly serious crime; petitioner's argument regarding the purported futility of raising the issue to the BIA was unpersuasive; the IJ acted within its authority by considering the facts and circumstances set forth in the criminal complaint; the unlawful-possession-of-a-firearm offense qualified as a particularly serious crime and barred withholding of removal; and there was no reviewable claim of error in regard to the BIA's denial of relief under the Convention Against Torture. View "Marambo v. Barr" on Justia Law