Supremes Drop Back, Boot It Deep, J. Gorsuch Calls For Fair Catch, Play To Resume In Fall Quarter! — I.O.W. They “Punted” The 3 Remaining Immigration Cases On The Fall 2016 Docket!

Actually, only two of them”went to Gorsuch,” that is, were set for re-arguement next Fall, presumably because the Justices were tied 4-4. The other case was kicked back to the 9th Circuit to reconsider in light of Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Court’s recent decision on “Bivens actions.” Here’s a link to my prior Ziglar blog:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/06/19/relax-cabinet-members-supremes-say-no-monetary-damages-for-unconstitutional-acts-ziglar-v-abbasi/

You can read all about it over on ImmigrationProf Blog in a short article by Dean Kevin Johnson at this link:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/06/supreme-court-ends-2016-term-with-three-immigration-decisions.html

 

PWS

06-26-17

2D CIR Raps BIA, USIJ For Applying Wrong Tests For Agfel —- NY 5th Degree Sale Of A Controlled Substance Not A “Drug Trafficking Crime” — Respondent Eligible For Cancellation — KENNARD GARVIN HARBIN v. JEFFERSON SESSIONS III

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1865217.html

“We hold that NYPL § 220.31 defines a single crime and is therefore an “indivisible” statute. Accordingly, the agency should have applied the so-called “categorical approach,” which looks to the statutory definition of the offense of conviction, rather than the particulars of an individual’s behavior, to determine whether a prior conviction constitutes an aggravated felony. See Mellouli v. Lynch, 135 S. Ct. 1980, 1986 (2015). Now applying the categorical approach, we conclude that Harbin’s conviction under the NYPL § 220.31 did not constitute a commission of an aggravated felony. Harbin’s § 220.31 conviction therefore did not bar him from seeking cancellation of removal and asylum.”

PANEL: Circuit Judges CABRANES, POOLER, and PARKER.

OPINION BY:  Judge Pooler.

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When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn? Attempts by U.S. Immigration Judges and the BIA to “blow by” proper application of “divisibility analysis” and the “categorical approach” in an effort to maximize removals under the “aggravated felony” provisions of the INA continue to draw criticism from higher court judges. However, they probably are “less career threatening” with respect to the BIA’s relationship to their political bosses at the DOJ. Whoever heard of a due process court system being owned and operated by the chief prosecutor? And, nobody can doubt that Attorney General Jeff Sessions sees himself as the Chief Prosecutor of migrants in the United States. But, to be fair, the last Attorney General to actually attempt to let the BIA function as an an independent quasi-judicial body was the late Janet Reno. And, that was 17 years ago.

PWS

06-23-17

U.S. District Judge In Detroit Temporarily Halts DHS Effort To Expel Chaldean Christians To Iraq!

https://apnews.com/65537e11f1a941c7954faaebdd35f75d/Detroit-judge-halts-deportation-of-Iraqi-Christians

AP reports:

“DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Thursday temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said in a written order that deportation is halted for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.

The Justice Department had argued that the detainees, including many who were recently rounded up after decades in the U.S., must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court. But the American Civil Liberties Union said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.

Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday. He said he needs more time to consider complex legal issues.

Potential physical harm “far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims,” Goldsmith said.

Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested on or about June 11 and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.

Iraq recently agreed to accept Iraqi nationals subject to removal from the U.S.

“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a release. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

Besides the 114 arrested in the Detroit area, 85 other Iraqi nationals were arrested elsewhere in the country, according to ICE. As of April 17, there were 1,444 Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal from the U.S. Eight already have been returned to Iraq.

The detainees include Louis Akrawi, who served more than 20 years in Michigan prisons for second-degree murder. He was accused of arranging a shooting that killed an innocent bystander in 1993.

“He’s 69 years old, he has two artificial knees, and he needs surgery on both eyes. Sending him back to Iraq is unfair,” his son, Victor Akrawi, told The Detroit News.”

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Perhaps, Evangelical Christians who supported Trump thought they would get a break. But, in this particular operation, being a Christian doesn’t seem to have helped. Muslims are also being removed.

PWS

06-23-17

BREAKING: SUPREMES RULE IMMIGRANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WHERE ATTY GAVE WRONG ADVICE ON DEPORTATION! — JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES — Chief Justice Roberts Writes For 6-2 Majority!

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-327_3eb4.pdf

Here’s the Court’s Headnote (not part of the decision)

Petitioner Jae Lee moved to the United States from South Korea with his parents when he was 13. In the 35 years he has spent in this country, he has never returned to South Korea, nor has he become a U. S. citizen, living instead as a lawful permanent resident. In 2008, federal officials received a tip from a confidential informant that Lee had sold the informant ecstasy and marijuana. After obtaining a warrant, the officials searched Lee’s house, where they found drugs, cash, and a loaded rifle. Lee admitted that the drugs were his, and a grand jury indicted him on one count of possessing ecstasy with in- tent to distribute. Lee retained counsel and entered into plea discussions with the Government. During the plea process, Lee repeatedly asked his attorney whether he would face deportation; his attorney assured him that he would not be deported as a result of pleading guilty. Based on that assurance, Lee accepted a plea and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Lee had in fact pleaded guilty to an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U. S. C. §1101(a)(43)(B), so he was, contrary to his attorney’s advice, subject to mandatory deportation as a result of that plea. See §1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). When Lee learned of this consequence, he filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence, arguing that his attorney had provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. At an evidentiary hearing, both Lee and his plea-stage counsel testified that “deportation was the determinative issue” to Lee in deciding whether to accept a plea, and Lee’s counsel acknowledged that although Lee’s defense to the charge was weak, if he had known Lee would be de- ported upon pleading guilty, he would have advised him to go to trial. A Magistrate Judge recommended that Lee’s plea be set aside and his conviction vacated. The District Court, however, denied relief, and

2

JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES Syllabus

the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Applying the two-part test for ineffective assistance claims from Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668, the Sixth Circuit concluded that, while the Government conceded that Lee’s counsel had performed deficiently, Lee could not show that he was prejudiced by his attorney’s erroneous advice.

Held: Lee has demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s erroneous advice. Pp. 5–13.

(a) When a defendant claims that his counsel’s deficient perfor- mance deprived him of a trial by causing him to accept a plea, the de- fendant can show prejudice by demonstrating a “reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.” Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U. S. 52, 59.

Lee contends that he can make this showing because he never would have accepted a guilty plea had he known the result would be deportation. The Government contends that Lee cannot show prejudice from accepting a plea where his only hope at trial was that something unexpected and unpredictable might occur that would lead to acquittal. Pp. 5–8.

(b) The Government makes two errors in urging the adoption of a per se rule that a defendant with no viable defense cannot show prejudice from the denial of his right to trial. First, it forgets that categorical rules are ill suited to an inquiry that demands a “case-by-case examination” of the “totality of the evidence.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U. S. 362, 391 (internal quotation marks omitted); Strickland, 466 U. S., at 695. More fundamentally, it overlooks that the Hill v. Lockhart inquiry focuses on a defendant’s decisionmaking, which may not turn solely on the likelihood of conviction after trial.

The decision whether to plead guilty also involves assessing the respective consequences of a conviction after trial and by plea. See INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U. S. 289, 322–323. When those consequences are, from the defendant’s perspective, similarly dire, even the smallest chance of success at trial may look attractive. For Lee, deportation after some time in prison was not meaningfully different from deportation after somewhat less time; he says he accordingly would have rejected any plea leading to deportation in favor of throwing a “Hail Mary” at trial. Pointing to Strickland, the Government urges that “[a] defendant has no entitlement to the luck of a lawless deci- sionmaker.” 466 U. S., at 695. That statement, however, was made in the context of discussing the presumption of reliability applied to judicial proceedings, which has no place where, as here, a defendant was deprived of a proceeding altogether. When the inquiry is focused on what an individual defendant would have done, the possibility of even a highly improbable result may be pertinent to the extent it

Cite as: 582 U. S. ____ (2017) 3

Syllabus

would have affected the defendant’s decisionmaking. Pp. 8–10.
(c) Courts should not upset a plea solely because of post hoc assertions from a defendant about how he would have pleaded but for his attorney’s deficiencies. Rather, they should look to contemporaneous evidence to substantiate a defendant’s expressed preferences. In the unusual circumstances of this case, Lee has adequately demonstrated a reasonable probability that he would have rejected the plea had he known that it would lead to mandatory deportation: Both Lee and his attorney testified that “deportation was the determinative issue” to Lee; his responses during his plea colloquy confirmed the importance he placed on deportation; and he had strong connections to the United States, while he had no ties to South Korea.

The Government argues that Lee cannot “convince the court that a decision to reject the plea bargain would have been rational under the circumstances,” Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. 356, 372, since deportation would almost certainly result from a trial. Unlike the Government, this Court cannot say that it would be irrational for someone in Lee’s position to risk additional prison time in exchange for holding on to some chance of avoiding deportation. Pp. 10–13.

825 F. 3d 311, reversed and remanded.

ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined except as to Part I. GORSUCH, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

**************************************************

My favorite quote from the Chief Justice’s opinion:

“There is no reason to doubt the paramount importance Lee placed on avoiding deportation. Deportation is always “a particularly severe penalty,” Padilla, 559 U. S., at 365 (internal quotation marks omitted), and we have “recognized that ‘preserving the client’s right to remain in the United States may be more important to the client than any potential jail sentence,’” id., at 368 (quoting St. Cyr, 533 U. S., at 322; alteration and some internal quotation

——————

12 JAE LEE v. UNITED STATES Opinion of the Court

marks omitted); see also Padilla, 559 U.S., at 364 (“[D]eportation is an integral part—indeed, sometimes the most important part—of the penalty that may be imposed on noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to specified crimes.” (footnote omitted)). At the time of his plea, Lee had lived in the United States for nearly three decades, had established two businesses in Tennessee, and was the only family member in the United States who could care for his elderly parents—both naturalized American citizens. In contrast to these strong connections to the United States, there is no indication that he had any ties to South Korea; he had never returned there since leaving as a child.”

My question:

When is the Court finally going to take the next logical step, ditch the fiction that “deportation from the United States is strictly a civil matter,” and formally recognize that deportation, at least of someone like Lee who has been legally admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence, is indeed punishment, of the severest type imaginable! Indeed, exile as punishment dates back to ancient times?

Also worthy of note, the DOJ and the Solicitor General continue to be spectacularly unsuccessful in convincing a conservative, law enforcement oriented Court of the merits of their extreme “hard-line” positions in immigration-related matters. I have previously predicted that loss of “face” and credibility by the SG before the Supremes is a likely consequence of representing the Trump Administration with Jeff Sessions as your boss. As the President himself is finding out, the hard way, once lost, credibility before the courts is difficult or impossible to regain.

PWS

06-25-48

NEW GAME IN TOWN: “GRAND THEFT GOP” — Party Plans Biggest Heist In US History — To Be Carried Out In Broad Daylight — GOP Voters Expected To Provide Getaway Car!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/senate-republicans-ready-themselves-for-a-massive-theft-from-the-poor/2017/06/22/902a1a96-5777-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b:homepage/story&utm_term=.6918f77c4db1

Eugene Robinson writes in a Washington Post op-ed:

“The “health-care bill” that Republicans are trying to pass in the Senate, like the one approved by the GOP majority in the House, isn’t really about health care at all. It’s the first step in a massive redistribution of wealth from struggling wage-earners to the rich — a theft of historic proportions.

Is the Senate version less “mean” than the House bill, to use President Trump’s description of that earlier effort? Not really. Does the new bill have the “heart” that Trump demanded? No, it doesn’t. The devil is not in the details, it’s in the big picture.

Fundamentally, what Republicans in both chambers want to do is cut nearly $1 trillion over the next decade from the Medicaid program, which serves almost 70 million people. Medicaid provides health care not just for the indigent and disabled but also for the working poor — low-wage employees who cannot afford health insurance, even the plans offered through their jobs.

Additionally, about 20 percent of Medicaid spending goes to provide nursing home care, including for middle-class seniors whose savings have been exhausted — a situation almost any of us might confront. Roughly two-thirds of those in nursing homes have their care paid by Medicaid.

 

Why would Republicans want to slash this vital program so severely? You will hear a lot of self-righteous huffing and puffing about the need for entitlement reform, but the GOP’s intention is not to use the savings to pay down the national debt. Instead, slashing Medicaid spending creates fiscal headroom for what is euphemistically being called “tax reform” — a soon-to-come package of huge tax cuts favoring the wealthy.

That’s the basic equation in both the House and Senate bills: Medicaid for tax cuts. Both bills start with various of the taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act, but those are mere appetizers. The main course is intended to be big cuts in individual and corporate tax rates that would benefit the rich.

There is no other point to this whole exercise. All the “Obamacare is in a death spiral” talk is Republican wishful thinking, aided and abetted by active sabotage.”

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Undoubtedly, many of those who would die or suffer needlessly as a result of the GOPs “Reverse Robin Hood” operation would be Democrats and non-voters (like children). But, many in the GOP base also fall within the group of poor and “lower middle class” folks who would be sentenced to death or suffering by the GOP. Killing off your own voters, with their support, is an interesting new twist in modern GOP politics. But, obviously Trump, McConnell, Ryan, and their Fat Cat handlers are confident in the gullibility and inability of many in their base to discern either their own or the general public’s best interests. Difficult to comprehend.

PWS

06-23-17

 

BIA PRECEDENT: SD Receipt Of Stolen Motor Vehicle NOT An Agfel — Lacks Mens Rea — Matter Of DEANG, 27 I&N Dec. 57 (BIA 2017) — Split Panel!

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/974211/download

BIA HEADNOTES:

(“1) An essential element of an aggravated felony receipt of stolen property offense under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(G) (2012), is that an offender must receive property with the “knowledge or belief” that it has been stolen, and this element excludes a mens rea equivalent to a “reason to believe.”

(2) A conviction for receipt of a stolen motor vehicle under section 32-4-5 of the South Dakota Codified Laws categorically does not define an aggravated felony receipt of stolen property offense under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act because it is indivisible with respect to the necessary mens rea and only requires, at a minimum, that an offender have a “reason to believe” that the vehicle received was stolen.”

BIA PANEL: Appellate Immigration Judges Pauley, Creppy, & Malphrus

OPINION BY: Judge Pauley

DISSENTING OPINION: Judge Malphrus

Here’s an excerpt from Judge Malphrus’s dissent:

“I cannot agree with the majority’s conclusion that the respondent’s receipt of stolen property offense does not qualify as an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(G) (2012). I agree that our task is to determine the generic, contemporary meaning of the phrase “receipt of stolen property” in section 101(a)(43)(G) by surveying the Federal and State statutes as they existed in 1994, when Congress added the phrase “receipt of stolen property” to section 101(a)(43) of the Act, as well as the Model Penal Code. See Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575, 592, 598 (1990); see also Matter of Alvarado, 26 I&N Dec. 895, 897 (BIA 2016). However, there was simply no consensus regarding the mens rea standard for receipt of stolen property offenses in 1994. I cannot conclude that Congress intended to adopt a mens rea that, according to the majority, would preclude offenses in 21 jurisdictions, as well as a Federal offense, from qualifying as aggravated felonies.”

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Read the complete majority and dissenting opinions at the link. This is a very rare (these days) “split panel” on a BIA precedent.

PWS

06-18-17

 

NEW PRECEDENT: BIA On “Receipt Of Stolen Property” –Matter of ALDAY-DOMINGUEZ, 27 I&N Dec. 48 (BIA 2017) — Still Getting It Wrong After All These Years — Read My “Dissenting Opinion!”

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/970806/download

Here’s the BIA headnote:

“The aggravated felony receipt of stolen property provision in section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(G) (2012), does not require that unlawfully received property be obtained by means of common law theft or larceny.”

PANEL: BIA Appellate Immigration Judges Pauley, Guendelsberger, and Kendall Clark

OPINION BY: Judge Pauley

*****************************************************************

I respectfully dissent.

The Immigration Judge got it right. Under the “plain meaning” of the statute, the respondent is not an aggravated felon. Therefore, the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

Nearly 17 years ago, when I was Chairman of the BIA, I joined the dissenting opinion of Judge Lory D. Rosenberg in a related case, Matter of Bhata, 22 I&N Dec. 1381 (BIA 2000) https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2014/07/25/3437.pdf which is cited by this panel in Matter of Alday-Dominguez. Indeed, the panel relies on Bhata to support it’s incorrect decision.

However, as Judge Rosenberg pointed out cogently in her dissent:

Accordingly, the modifying parenthetical phrase helps only to elucidate the main clause of the provision. Although the language “theft offense” may require our interpretation, the parenthetical must be read according to its own terms in the context of that subsection of the Act. The phrase “(including receipt of stolen property)” after the word “offense” limits the crimes that are included within the phrase “theft offense.” United States v. Monjaras-Castaneda, supra, at 329 (citing John E. Warriner & Francis Griffith, English Grammar and Composition (Heritage ed., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1977)). Specifically, the parenthetical provides that a “theft offense” encompasses the particular offense of receiving stolen property (which, by implication and judicial interpretation, is not a theft).

Matter of Bhata, supra, at 1396 (Rosenberg, AIJ dissenting).

Clearly, as pointed out by Judge Rosenberg, under a “plain reading” of the statutory language, “receipt of stolen property”  is a “subgroup” of a theft offense. Consequently, the unlawfully received property must have been obtained by “theft.” The California statute includes things other than property obtained by theft, specifically objects obtained by “extortion.”

Therefore, under the “categorical approach,” the California statute is broader than the aggravated felony offense described in section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act. Accordingly, the DHS fails to establish that the respondent is removable under that section. Hence, the Immigration Judge correctly terminated removal proceedings, and the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

The majority is just as wrong today as it was in Bhata. Remarkably, a member of this panel, Judge Guendelsberger, along with Judge Gus Villageliu and Judge Neil Miller, joined our dissent in Bhata. Sadly, over the course of his unjustified exile, followed by re-education, rehabilitation, and reappointment to his Appellate Judgeship, my friend and colleague’s views must have changed since the days when he stood up with the rest of us for respondents’ legal rights against the majority of our colleagues who all too often bought the Government’s arguments, even when they were less than persuasive.

Just this week, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court reinforced the “plain meaning” analysis in applying the categorical approach to an aggravated felony removal provision involving “sexual abuse of a minor.” Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, ___ U.S. ___ (2017). Yet, the panel seems “tone-deaf” to the very clear message from Justice Thomas and his colleagues about the impropriety of manipulating clear statutory language to achieve a finding of removal.

In conclusion, the respondent has not been convicted an of an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act by virtue of his conviction for receiving stolen property under the California Penal Code. Consequently, the Immigration Judge reached the correct result, and the DHS appeal should be dismissed.

Therefore, I respectfully dissent from the panel’s decision to sustain the DHS appeal.

Paul Wickham Schmidt

Former BIA Chairman, Appellate Immigration Judge, & United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

Entered: June 2, 2017

Led By Justice Thomas, Unanimous Supremes Reject USG’s Attempt To Deport Mexican Man For Consensual Sex With A Minor — “Strict Interpretation” Carries The Day!

Here is then full text of the opinion in Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-54_5i26.pdf

Here’s a key excerpt from Justice Thomas’s opinion:

“Relying on a different dictionary (and “sparse” legislative history), the Government suggests an alternative “‘everyday understanding’” of “sexual abuse of a minor.” Brief for Respondent 16–17 (citing Black’s Law Dictionary 1375 (6th ed. 1990)). Around the time sexual abuse of a minor was added to the INA’s list of aggravated felonies, that dictionary defined “[s]exual abuse” as “[i]llegal sex acts performed against a minor by a parent, guardian, relative, or acquaintance,” and defined “[m]inor” as “[a]n infant or person who is under the age of legal competence,” which in “most states” was “18.” Id., at 997, 1375. “‘Sex- ual abuse of a minor,’” the Government accordingly contends, “most naturally connotes conduct that (1) is illegal, (2) involves sexual activity, and (3) is directed at a person younger than 18 years old.” Brief for Respondent 17.

We are not persuaded that the generic federal offense corresponds to the Government’s definition. First, the Government’s proposed definition is flatly inconsistent with the definition of sexual abuse contained in the very dictionary on which it relies; the Government’s proposed definition does not require that the act be performed “by a parent, guardian, relative, or acquaintance.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1375 (6th ed. 1990) (emphasis added). In any event, as we explain below, offenses predicated on a special relationship of trust between the victim and offender are not at issue here and frequently have a different age requirement than the general age of consent. Second, in the context of statutory rape, the prepositional phrase “of a minor” naturally refers not to the age of legal competence (when a person is legally capable of agreeing to a contract, for example), but to the age of consent (when a person is legally capable of agreeing to sexual intercourse).

Third, the Government’s definition turns the categorical approach on its head by defining the generic federal offense of sexual abuse of a minor as whatever is illegal under the particular law of the State where the defendant was convicted. Under the Government’s preferred ap- proach, there is no “generic” definition at all. See Taylor, 495 U. S., at 591 (requiring “a clear indication that . . . Congress intended to abandon its general approach of using uniform categorical definitions to identify predicate offenses”); id., at 592 (“We think that ‘burglary’ in §924(e) must have some uniform definition independent of the labels employed by the various States’ criminal codes”).

C

The structure of the INA, a related federal statute, and evidence from state criminal codes confirm that, for a statutory rape offense to qualify as sexual abuse of a minor under the INA based solely on the age of the participants, the victim must be younger than 16.”

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Notwithstanding a supposedly “conservative” Court, going back several Administrations the USG has been losing on a surprisingly regular basis in its attempts to take the most extreme and inclusive interpretations of various already very harsh deportation provisions. And, “strict constructionists” like Justice Thomas and the late Justice Scalia have sometimes had just as much problem with the Government’s overreach as have supposedly more liberal or “middle of the road” justices. That’s why I’m not convinced that Justice Gorsuch (who did not participate in this case) will be as much of a “Government ringer” as some believe, at least in immigration matters.

Despite a number of notable setbacks at the Court, DHS, DOJ, and the BIA all seem to be rather “tone deaf” to the Court’s message. The Executive Branch continues to take the most extreme anti-immigrant positions even where, as in this case, it requires ignoring the “unambiguous” statutory language.

Given the “maximo enforcement” posture of the Trump Administration, there is little reason to believe that the Executive Branch will “get” the Court’s message about more reasonable interpretations of deportation statutes. Hopefully, the Court will continue to stand up against such abuses of Executive authority.

PWS

05-31-17

NEW FROM 4TH CIRCUIT: Court Reviews Expedited Removal, Finds VA Statutory Burglary “Not Divisible” — CASTENDET-LEWIS v. SESSIONS!

http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/152484.P.pdf

PANEL:

GREGORY, Chief Judge, KING, Circuit Judge, and DAVIS, Senior Circuit Judge.

OPINION BY:  JUDGE KING

“In these circumstances, we must assess whether a Virginia statutory burglary constitutes an aggravated felony using the categorical approach. See Omargharib, 775 F.3d at 196. As the Attorney General concedes in this proceeding, the Virginia burglary statute is broader than the federal crime of generic burglary. In Taylor, the Supreme Court included in its definition of a generic burglary “an unlawful or unprivileged entry” into “a building or other structure,” and explained that state burglary statutes that “eliminat[e] the requirement that the entry be unlawful, or . . . includ[e] places, such as automobiles and vending machines, other than buildings,” fall outside the definition of generic burglary. See 495 U.S. at 598-99. As we noted above, the Virginia burglary statute is satisfied by various alternative means of entry, including one’s entry without breaking or one’s concealment after lawful entry. By proscribing such conduct, the statute falls outside the scope of generic burglary. The Virginia burglary statute also reaches several places that are not buildings or structures, such as ships, vessels, river craft, railroad cars, automobiles, trucks, and trailers. As the BIA recently recognized, the breadth of the statute means that it falls outside the definition of an aggravated felony. See In re H-M-F, __ I. & N. Dec. __ (BIA Mar. 29, 2017). Utilizing the categorical approach, we are also satisfied that the Virginia offense of statutory burglary criminalizes more conduct than the generic federal offense of burglary. The DHS therefore erred in classifying Castendet’s conviction as an aggravated felony.”

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Could the wheels be starting to come off the DHS’s “Expedited Removal Machine” before it even gets up to full throttle?

PWS

04-27-17

PRECEDENT: BIA Opines On “Divisibility” In Agfel Cases — Matter of CHAIREZ-CASTREJON, 27 I&N Dec. 21 (BIA 2017)

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/959656/download

Here’s the BIA headnote:

“In determining whether a statute is divisible under Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), Immigration Judges may consider or “peek” at an alien’s conviction record only to discern whether statutory alternatives define “elements” or “means,” provided State law does not otherwise resolve the question.”

PANEL: Appellate Immigration Judges Pauley, Greer, Malphrus

OPINION BY: Judge Pauley

CONCURRING OPINION BY: Judge Malphrus

***********************************

This case is unusual because BIA Judges seldom file “separate opinions” in published decisions these days.

In his concurring opinion, Judge Garry D. Malphrus appears to be both questioning whether the  Supreme Court’s approach to statutory “divisibility” analysis comports with congressional intent in immigration matters and inviting Congress to perhaps change the INA so that the BIA and the Immigration Judges could examine the facts of the case, as set forth in the record of conviction, to determine whether the individual should be removed. Judge Malphrus says in his conclusion:

“Here, we must presume that the respondent committed the least of the acts criminalized within the range of conduct punishable under his statute of conviction. See Moncrieffe v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 1678, 1684–85 (2013). This is true even though the respondent’s plea agreement indicates that he did more—specifically, that he knowingly discharged a firearm at another, and thus he committed an aggravated felony crime of violence. See id.

The approach to divisibility required by Descamps and Mathis will result in immigration proceedings being terminated for many aliens who have committed serious crimes in the United States. See, e.g., Ramirez v. Lynch, 810 F.3d 1127, 1134–38 (9th Cir. 2016) (reversing the order of removal upon concluding that the California statute proscribing felony child abuse was not divisible, and thus it was improper to consider the conviction records in determining whether the alien’s conviction constituted an aggravated felony crime of violence). [footnote omitted].  It is for Congress to determine whether this approach is consistent with its intent regarding the immigration consequences of such criminal conduct.”

*****************************************

Another observation: How could an unrepresented respondent charged under this section possibly defend himself consistent with due process when the law is so complex and convoluted. This particular respondent was fortunate enough to have a lawyer, and as we can see, he was able to achieve a favorable result. But, recent studies have shown that the overwhelming number of respondents in detention (as individuals charged as “agfels” must be) must proceed without counsel. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Gv

PWS

04-24-17