11th Cir. — BIA GETS IT WRONG AGAIN ON MODIFIED CATEGORICAL APPROACH & AGFEL — GORDON V. ATTORNEY GENERAL

http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201513846.pdf

Key quote:

“Further, the Board’s conclusion that the crime was an aggravated felony because the sale or delivery was “for monetary consideration” is meritless. That the sale or delivery was “for monetary consideration” does nothing to assist us in determining “which of a statute’s alternative elements”—sale or delivery— “formed the basis of the defendant’s prior conviction.” Descamps, 133 S. Ct. at 2284. The Supreme Court has made clear time and time again that “[a]n alien’s actual conduct is irrelevant to the inquiry.” Mellouli, 135 S. Ct. at 1986. As the Board did not appropriately determine that Gordon was convicted of an aggravated felony, we grant Gordon’s petition and reject the Board’s finding of removability.”

PANEL: Circuit,Judges Tjoflat, Wilson; District Judge Robreno

INION BY: Judge Tjoflat

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So, why does an “expert tribunal” like the BIA keep getting this fairly basic stuff wrong? And, why has the DOJ eliminated EOIR training?

PWS

07-13-17

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

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 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

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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.”

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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