Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law

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Fitzpatrick, a citizen of Peru, had lived in the U.S. for three years when she applied for an Illinois driver’s license; she displayed her green card and her Peruvian passport, but checked a box claiming to be a U.S. citizen. As required by the motor-voter law, 52 U.S.C. 20503–06, the form contained a checkbox for registration as a voter. Fitzpatrick maintains that the clerk asked whether she wanted to register. She inquired “Am I supposed to?”; he replied: “It’s up to you.” She checked that box, was registered, and in 2006 twice voted in federal elections, violating 18 U.S.C. 611; 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(6), provides for the removal of aliens who vote in violation of the law. On her application for citizenship, Fitzpatrick, who is married to a U.S. citizen, and has three U.S.-citizen (naturalized) children, honestly described her voting history. The BIA affirmed an order of removal. The Seventh Circuit denied relief, rejecting an “entrapment by estoppel” defense. Fitzpatrick did not make accurate disclosures when applying. She is literate in English and has no excuse for that misrepresentation. No one told her that aliens are entitled to vote or to register to vote. Fitzpatrick had time after receiving her voter-registration card to determine whether she was entitled to vote. View "Fitzpatrick v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Garcia‐Hernandez entered the U.S. from Mexico without inspection in 2000. In 2010, Talavera, the mother of his children, obtained an order of protection against him. Weeks later, Garcia‐Hernandez was charged with violating that order and pled guilty. He was sentenced to 12 months of supervision. He was charged as removeable, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Garcia‐Hernandez sought cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C.1229b(b), which requires that the alien has been physically present in the U.S. for 10 years, has been a person of good moral character during those years, and that removal would result in “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to the alien’s spouse, parent, or child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The alien may not have been convicted of an offense under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2), 1227(a)(2), or 1227(a)(3). The IJ found Garcia-Hernandez ineligible for relief because section 1227(a)(2)(E)(ii) disqualifies an alien who a court “determines has engaged in conduct that violates the portion of a protection order that involves protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury.” The charging document to which he pled guilty said that Garcia-Hernandez had harassed Talavera and violated the injunction to stay away from her. The BIA and Seventh Circuit upheld the decision, rejecting an argument that the section did not apply because the charging document did not say that he had actually made credible threats of violence or caused repeated harassment or bodily injury. View "Garcia-Hernandez v. Boente" on Justia Law
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SAB, 61-year-old Ethiopian citizen, was formerly a member of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which conducted a ‘low level guerrilla campaign against the Ethiopian security forces’.” SAB came to the U.S. in 2004 on a visitor’s visa. She sought asylum or withholding of removal. When an asylum officer deemed her claims not credible, she was charged as removable, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(B). She claimed fear that, if removed to Ethiopia, she would be tortured by the government because of her past OLF membership. She claimed that her membership was limited to attending general meetings and small financial contributions, that she did not believe reports of OLF killings, that her husband disappeared, and that she was imprisoned and tortured for four months. The IJ ruled that SAB was entitled to deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, but was not entitled to asylum or withholding of removal, citing her support of ”a terrorist organization,” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(B)(vi)(III). The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit rejected an appeal, stating that there was enough evidence to conclude that the SAB provided material support to OLF, which committed many violent acts, killing a significant number of people, over a period of years. SAB did not “demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence” that she did not know and “should not reasonably have known," that OLF was a terrorist organization. SAB, a business woman, could not have missed all the reports or reasonably thought all of them fraudulent. The court noted that the removal order cannot be executed as long she remains under threat of torture. View "S.A.B. v. Boente" on Justia Law
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Banegas, a then-38-year-old citizen of Honduras, entered the U.S. in 2005, without authorization. In removal proceedings, initiated in 2014, he applied for withholding of removal and for protection under the Convention Against Torture. He is HIV-positive and argued that he faces serious danger if returned to Honduras because many Hondurans believe that AIDS is an affliction of homosexuals and are hostile, often violently hostile, to persons they believe to be homosexual. For cultural reasons related to Hondurans’ beliefs, medical treatment of HIV and AIDS in Honduras is often deficient and often invasive of privacy. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed denial of his petitions. The Seventh Circuit vacated, stating that “the immigration judge made a hash of the record” and overlooked key testimony. View "Velasquez-Banegas v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Rivera, a 58‐year‐old citizen of El Salvador, has resided unlawfully in the U.S. for 35 years, having immigrated illegally. In 2014, having fought off a previous deportation effort, Rivera was convicted of possessing a “forged instrument” and the government reopened removal proceedings. An immigration judge denied Rivera’s requests for asylum, withholding of removal, or relief under the Convention Against Torture, rejecting Rivera’s claim of fear that gangs in El Salvador would seek to kidnap or extort him because they would perceive him as wealthy, based on his long residence in the United States. Rivera conceded that nobody in El Salvador had ever threatened him or his family and expressed uncertainty about whether the Salvadoran government would be able to protect him from gangs. He denied any fear that he would be harmed by the government itself. The IJ noted that the State Department’s “country condition” reports on El Salvador “do not show that street gangs have specifically targeted El Salvadoran citizens returning from the United States because of their perceived wealth.” The Board of Immigration Appeals and Seventh Circuit affirmed. Rivera did not present convincing evidence that he was in any danger. View "Rivera v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Robledo‐Soto, a Mexican citizen facing deportation, sought to postpone his removal proceeding so that he could expunge a drunk‐driving conviction and then try to persuade the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to exercise prosecutorial discretion and not prosecute his removal for entering the United States without authorization to do so, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Robledo‐Soto succeeded in getting his drunk‐driving conviction expunged and he is the father of American citizen children, aged 13, 9, and 7). A process, “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” (DAPA), is intended to allow such a person to request DHS to “defer action” in his case, however USCIS, the component of DHS that deals with applications for immigration relief, is not implementing DAPA nor accepting DAPA applications because of a preliminary injunction against its implementing DAPA upheld by the Fifth Circuit in 2015. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in that case, but deadlocked so that the Fifth Circuit’s decision stands. The Seventh Circuit dismissed a petition for review of DHS’s “non-response” to Robledo-Soto’s request as moot for lack of authority to prevent his removal. View "Antonio Robledo-Soto v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Liberia’s civil war, 1989-1997, claimed the lives of 200,000 people and displaced a million others. Petitioner was exiled to Guinea, where he became close with Conneh, the head of LURD, an organization devoted to the overthrow of the government installed after the war. After returning to Liberia in 2003, Petitioner had no further contact with Conneh. In 2003, the government, LURD, and another insurgent group negotiated a peace treaty that gave LURD control over several governmental departments. In September 2003, Petitioner was appointed as Liberia’s Director of the Bureau of National Procurement; several subordinates resigned because they did not wish to work for a Mandingo Muslim. He received anonymous threatening phone calls. Petitioner’s home, among others, was burned down by a mob. Petitioner entered the U.S. in 2005, on a nonimmigrant visa for foreign officials engaged in official duties. A month later, he sought asylum, alleging that he suffered persecution and fears future persecution based on his status as a Mandingo Muslim, his political opinion, and membership in a particular social group, Mandingo Muslim governmental officials. He also sought Convention Against Torture protection and applied for an adjustment of his immigration status, 8 U.S.C. 1255b, available if an alien who has performed diplomatic duties can establish compelling reasons why he is unable to return to the country that accredited him, and adjustment of status is in the national interest. His applications were denied on the basis that he had provided material support to the Tier III terrorist organization, LURD. The BIA also found that Petitioner failed to show that it was more likely than not he would be tortured if returned to Liberia. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the Supreme Court has held that “seemingly benign support” can constitute unlawful material support and improved conditions in Liberia. View "Jabateh v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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Wang, a Chinese citizen, came to the U.S. in 2010 on a student visa. Wang never attended school, but worked part‐time. In 2011, Wang unsuccessfully sought asylum. Wang testified that he started practicing Christianity at age 17 and was injured in 2009, during a police raid on a Christian gathering. Months later, Wang was caught in a police raid at another Christian gathering, and was arrested and detained for a week. He claims he was interrogated, kicked, punched, and beaten with a baton. His parents paid a fine for his release; he sought treatment at the hospital. Later, the police “beat [him] up” when they spotted him on the street. The IJ disbelieved Wang’s testimony; denied his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture; and imposed a frivolous filing bar, permanently disqualifying him from “benefits” under the immigration laws, 8 U.S.C. 1158(d)(6). The IJ based his adverse credibility finding on inconsistencies between Wang’s testimony and his submitted documents. The Board of Immigration Appeals upheld both determinations, finding Wang did not provide “persuasive, reliable corroborating evidence.” The Seventh Circuit found that substantial evidence supports conclusions that Wang was not credible and did not adequately corroborate his account, and affirmed denial of immigration relief, but concluded that substantial evidence did not support a finding that Wang deliberately fabricated material elements of his application. View "Wang v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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In 2011, Xiang came to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa. She sought asylum and withholding of removal, alleging that, after the 1992 birth of her son, she suffered persecution under China’s strict family planning policies. She alleged that she had been forced to have three abortions and forced to have intrauterine devices involuntarily inserted, which caused serious medical issues and loss of her fertility. USCIS denied her application. After a hearing, an IJ concluded that Xiang was not credible due to her vague and inconsistent testimony and that Xiang did not provide sufficient corroborative evidence to meet her burden to establish eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(1)(B)(ii). The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit vacated. While Xiang claimed three forced abortions, there was evidence of at least one abortion, shifting the burden under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42), which provides that a person who has been forced to abort a pregnancy “shall be deemed to have been persecuted on account of political opinion.” The IJ made no finding with respect to the abortion that appeared in Xiang’s medical records. View "Xiang v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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An immigration judge (IJ) ordered Chavarria‐Reyes removed to Mexico after concluding that he lacked permission to be here and was ineligible for discretionary relief because he has committed a crime of moral turpitude. The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The court held that, although the IJ failed in his duty, Chavarria-Reyes failed to exhaust remedies with respect to the IJ’s failure to alert him to the possibility of voluntary departure under 8 U.S.C. 1229c(a). An alien who departs voluntarily has more opportunity to return in later years than an alien removed involuntarily. Voluntary departure usually depends on a showing of good moral character: Chavarria‐Reyes has at least three convictions, for domestic battery, retail theft, and home‐repair fraud. Voluntary departure under section 240B(a) is available without regard to the alien’s character, if the alien makes the request at the outset of proceedings and forswears all other arguments. The court noted that the checklist for use at hearings with aliens who have counsel, the category in which the IJ (wrongly) supposed Chavarria‐Reyes to be, does not call on the IJ to give advice about voluntary departure under section 240B(a), whether or not some other option is available. View "Chavarria-Reyes v. Lynch" on Justia Law
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