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

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Nyandwi, a citizen of Burundi and a native of Tanzania, came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2006 and became a lawful permanent resident. After Nyandwi was convicted of robbery in the second degree, receiving a stolen firearm, and illegal possession of a controlled substance, DHS began removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), (B)(i). Nyandwi sought Asylum and Withholding of Removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Nyandwi submitted evidence of country conditions in Burundi and testified that he was an ethnic Twa whose parents fled Burundi in 1996 because of a civil war that resulted in the death of Twas, including his family members. Nyandwi was unable to speak the native language, had no proof of political allegiance to the governing regime, and was unable to pay compulsory election contributions.The IJ and BIA denied relief. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The IJ considered the relevant factors such as evidence of past torture, ability to relocate within the country, evidence of grave human rights violations or other relevant country conditions, reflecting a careful analysis of the component parts of a holistic claim, and did not fail to consider critical evidence. View "Nyandwi v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Murry, a Jamaican citizen, entered in 2005 the U.S. as the fiancé of a U.S. citizen, whom he later married. Murry applied for permanent residence based on the marriage. USCIS denied the application in 2011. The government started removal proceedings. Murry has remained in the U.S. without authorization. Murry sought relief based on his sexual orientation. He testified that he has been attracted to men since he was a teenager and that in 2004 after a man publicly called him gay and urged bystanders to shun him, five men hit and kicked Murry. Fearing repercussions, he did not seek medical care or ask the police for help.The IJ considered evidence about how the treatment of gay people in Jamaica has evolved since 2004. The IJ denied Murry relief; Murry was ineligible for withholding of removal because the private attack in 2004 did not demonstrate state-sanctioned past persecution, and other evidence of the country’s conditions did not show a clear probability of future persecution. The BIA dismissed Murry’s appeal. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Jamaica rarely enforces its anti-sodomy laws for consensual sexual relations, and recent reports show growing public support for gay rights. Substantial evidence indicates that Murry does not face a likelihood of state-sanctioned persecution. View "Murry v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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In 2011, Campos-Rivera, a citizen of Mexico, was convicted of Illinois state felonies He was removed but reentered and was apprehended in 2018. Charged with unlawfully reentering the U.S. after removal, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a), he was initially represented by an assistant public defender. Counsel was allowed to withdraw at Campos-Rivera’s request based on an irreconcilable conflict. A new lawyer was appointed. Campos-Rivera then filed multiple pro se motions raising issues that his new attorney declined to pursue. The judge told him that he could not proceed pro se and through counsel. Campos-Rivera asked the judge to dismiss his attorney and appoint a third. The judge declined, giving Campos-Rivera a choice: move forward with his current lawyer or proceed pro se. Campos-Rivera chose the latter. The judge then denied the pro se motions and later found Campos-Rivera guilty.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A disagreement between attorney and client over pretrial motions is not grounds for the appointment of a new attorney. Campos-Rivera validly waived his right to counsel; the judge conducted a comprehensive waiver colloquy to ensure that the decision was fully informed and voluntary. Campos-Rivera’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence fails because section 1326(a) is a general-intent crime. The government need only prove that the defendant knowingly reentered the U.S., not that he intended to do so unlawfully. The stipulated facts support an inference of knowing reentry. No specific factual finding regarding the intent element was necessary. View "United States v. Campos-Rivera" on Justia Law

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Omowole, a citizen of Nigeria, married her first husband, Festus, in 2007. Festus had won a diversity lottery visa for admission to the U.S. in 2006, and Omowole, as his spouse, was eligible for a derivative visa. By the time they emigrated (separately), months later they were estranged as a result of Festus’s disclosure that he had fathered a child with another woman before he married Omowole. Omowole settled in Indiana and Festus in California. The two never cohabited in the U.S. as husband and wife. In 2011, they divorced. Festus subsequently married the mother of his child. When he then attempted to become a naturalized U.S. citizen and sought lawful permanent resident status for his new wife and his child, USCIS investigated and determined his marriage to Omowole had been a sham entered into for the purpose of facilitating her entry into the United States.The Board of Immigration Appeals sustained the findings of two immigration judges that Omowole is removable for having procured an entry visa by fraud and not entitled to asylum or withholding of removal. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The decision rested on the immigration judges’ adverse findings as to Omowole’s credibility and that of her ex-husband, and those findings are supported by substantial evidence. View "Omowole v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Meza, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without being formally admitted or paroled in 1996, when he was nine years old. He has remained in this country ever since. He is married to another Mexican native, with whom he has five U.S.-citizen children. Meza’s parents also reside in the U.S. and have lawful permanent resident status. Around 2012, DHS initiated removal proceedings against him under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Meza applied for discretionary cancellation of removal under section 1229b(b), arguing that his removal would create exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his parents and his U.S.- citizen children.While his removal proceedings were pending, Meza was convicted of DUI. He collided with another vehicle. No one was injured, but the incident caused $5,000 in damage to the other car. Meza later pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle without a license and to operating a motor vehicle without insurance. He later pleaded guilty to failing to install an ignition interlock on his vehicle. Meza admitted that he used a fabricated social security number to obtain employment, 2003-2015. The BIA and Seventh Circuit upheld an IJ’s determination that Meza was ineligible for cancellation because he had failed to establish that he was a person of “good moral character.” View "Meza v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Calan-Montiel, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without inspection and was ordered removed. He was returned to Mexico. He came back, again evading inspection, and was caught again in 2019. Convicted under 8 U.S.C. 1326, for reentering without permission, after a removal order, he was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment. He argued that his first removal was unlawful because his Notice to Appear did not contain the information required by statute.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A removal order that serves as the basis of a section 1326 prosecution is subject to collateral attack only if the alien demonstrates that he exhausted any administrative remedies that may have been available, the deportation proceedings at which the order was issued improperly deprived the alien of the opportunity for judicial review; and the entry of the order was fundamentally unfair. Noncompliance with the one document rule is not a jurisdictional defect in a removal proceeding. There is nothing unfair, “fundamentally or otherwise, about using two documents to provide information.” Calan-Montiel does not deny that he had actual knowledge of the removal order. He could have asked to reopen the proceedings, or sought judicial review, even after being removed. His actions make it impossible to satisfy section 1326(d), even if the agency erred in sending notice of the hearing’s date. View "United States v. Calan-Montiel" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Chuchman, a 17-year-old student, joined the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), a political party that opposed then-president Yanukovych. In 2012, her university’s dean warned Chuchman that she could be expelled for her political activity. Two months later, police assaulted, arrested, and detained Chuchman at a rally. The dean again implored Chuchman to stop her political activity, saying she could be expelled. In 2013, Chuchman was assaulted by the police after attending another protest, suffering a broken nose, and a concussion; she was hospitalized for three weeks. Chuchman entered the U.S. using a cultural exchange visa. Two months later, Ukrainian police began searching for her. They sent summonses to her dormitory and to her parents’ house. While Chuchman was in the U.S., demonstrations and civil unrest broke out across Ukraine, culminating in Yanukovych’s ouster in 2014. UDAR merged with the new president’s party.Chuchman applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. In Ukraine, the police continued to search for Chuchman, citing “public disturbances.” Chuchman testified that she feared reprisal from the many pro-Yanukovych officials who remained in office. The IJ found Chuchman credible but denied relief. The BIA affirmed. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Substantial evidence supports the conclusion that Chuchman’s experience in Ukraine did not rise to the level of persecution; she failed to present compelling evidence that the new government would persecute her if she returned. View "Chuchman v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Mejia, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without inspection in 2005. His children are U.S. citizens. In 2011, he was placed in removal proceedings. His notice to appear did not include the date and time of the initial immigration hearing, required by 8 U.S.C. 1229(a)(1)(G)(i). A follow-up notice provided that information. Mejia appeared for all of his hearings. An IJ granted Mejia voluntary departure. Mejia did not depart. ICE placed him under an order of supervision. Mejia has complied with that order and has remained in the U.S.In 2018, the Supreme Court held (Pereira) that a notice to appear which fails to specify the time and place of a removal proceeding is insufficient to trigger the “stop-time” rule ending a non-citizen’s period of continuous presence in the United States. An undocumented person like Mejia must have 10 years of continuous presence in this country to become eligible for cancellation of removal. Mejia immediately sought to reopen the removal proceeding, reasoning that because the defective notice to appear did not trigger the stop-time rule, he had now accrued 10 years of continuous presence.The IJ and BIA denied Mejia’s motions. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. Mejia forfeited any objection to the deficiency in the notice to appear by not timely raising it in the removal proceeding and has not shown cause for forfeiture nor prejudice resulting from the defect in the notice. View "Mejia-Padilla v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Parzych, a 58-year-old Polish citizen, was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident in 1967. He was convicted of burglary in Illinois in 2011 and again in 2015 for knowingly and without authority remaining in buildings (storage lockers) with intent to commit theft. He was charged as removable for committing aggravated felonies of burglary and crimes involving moral turpitude, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(G), 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii)–(iii), and for committing aggravated felonies of attempted theft, sections 1101(a)(43)(G), (U), 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii)–(iii).The “categorical approach” to determine whether a state-law conviction qualifies as a removable offense compares the elements listed in the statute of conviction with the generic elements of the crime. When a statute of conviction proscribes some types of conduct that would constitute removable offenses and some that would not and is divisible, the “modified categorical approach” applies; a court may consult a limited class of documents to determine which alternative formed the basis of the conviction and compare it to the generic offense.An IJ applied the categorical approach and found that the location and intent elements of the Illinois statute were broader than the removable offenses of burglary and attempted theft. The Board reversed, finding the statute divisible. On remand, the IJ found Parzych removable. The Board affirmed that Parzych was removable for committing aggravated felonies of attempted theft and crimes of moral turpitude under the modified categorical approach. The Seventh Circuit vacated and remanded. The Illinois burglary statute is not divisible and the modified categorical approach does not apply. View "Parzych v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Avila, a Mexican citizen, has lived continuously in the U.S. since he entered as a minor in 2008. He committed an infraction that led to a disorderly conduct charge in 2019. Days after he pleaded guilty to that charge, he was placed in removal proceedings. A Notice to Appear at a removal hearing must include “[t]he time and place at which the proceedings will be held,” 8 U.S.C. 1229(a)(1)(G)(i). The Notice that Avila received did not comply with that requirement. He later received a “Notice of Hearing” with those details.Avila moved to terminate his proceedings on the ground that the Notice he received was defective. The IJ denied that motion and ordered Avila removed. Although the BIA acknowledged that the Notice was noncompliant, it reasoned that Avila was not entitled to relief because he had not shown that the defects in the Notice prejudiced him in any way. The Seventh Circuit remanded. While the requirements are not jurisdictional but are mandatory claims-processing rules, entitlement to relief does not depend on a showing of prejudice. View "Avila de la Rosa v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law