BIA ISSUES NEW PRECEDENT SAYING ORE. BURGLARY OF A DWELLING IS CATEGORICAL CIMT: MATTER OF J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 87 (BIA 2017) — Hon. Lory Rosenberg Says They Got It Wrong! — + My “Bonus Analysis!”

Here’s the BIA’s Headnote:

“Burglary of a dwelling in violation of section 164.225 of the Oregon Revised Statutes is a crime involving moral turpitude, even though the statute does not require that a person be present at the time of the offense, provided that the dwelling is at least intermittently occupied.”

PANEL: BIA Appelllate Immigration Judges PAULEY, WENTLAND & O’CONNOR,

DECISION BY: Judge Pauley

Here’s what former BIA Appellate Immigration Judge Lory D. Rosenberg had to say about it on her blog Appeal Matters and on

Lory D. Rosenberg on Appeal Matters

BIA and Reprehensible Determinations

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, 08-18-2017 at 04:53 PM (600 Views)

In Matter of J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 82 (BIA 2017), the BIA has ruled that the Oregon crime of burglary of a dwelling is a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) even though a defendant can be convicted of burglary under the Oregon statute for entering or remaining in an unoccupied home. The Board’s analysis is somewhat confounding, ultimately favoring a categorical conclusion that is clearly to the disadvantage of those in the respondent’s position.

(In one fell swoop, the BIA rejected the respondent’s request for withholding and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) on the basis that the respondent failed to identify an acceptable particular social group as the reason for the threat to his life or freedom and fear of torture, ruling that, “he asserted that he would be targeted by criminals because he would be recognized as someone who has lived in the United States for a long period of time based on his clothing and accent. However, this proposed group lacks particularity, because it is amorphous and lacks definable boundaries. As described, the proposed group could include persons of any age, sex, or background.” Id. at 86.)

There are two central issues presented: Does the Oregon statute in question and, if divisible, the crime of which the respondent was convicted under the Oregon statute, amount to a generic burglary? Assuming it amounts to a burglary, is the crime of which the respondent was convicted a CIMT, involving reprehensible conduct and some degree of scienter?

A few comments in response to the precedential aspects of this decision are warranted.

A conviction of the crime of burglary does not make removal inevitable, not only because there may be post-conviction remedies available, but because the underlying offense is not necessarily a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony conviction.

As we know, burglary convictions must be analyzed according to the state law under which the crime is defined. The elements of the offense described under state law must match the elements contained in the generic definition of burglary, i.e., unlawful entry into or remaining in a building or structure with the intent to commit a crime. Taylor v. U.S., 495 U.S. 575 (1990).

The respondent argued that the statute was overbroad. Although the respondent asserted that “a violation of the statute does not necessarily involve reprehensible conduct or a culpable mental state since it does not require that a defendant unlawfully enter a dwelling or intend to commit a crime involving moral turpitude at the time he or she enters the building,” 83, the BIA rejected the respondent’s arguments.

The BIA concluded instead that the statute was divisible “with respect to whether a first degree burglary offense involved entering or remaining unlawfully in a dwelling, as opposed to a building other than a dwelling.” Id. at 84-85. Cf. Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243,2249 (2016) (deeming a statute to be divisible if “it list[s] elements in the alternative, and thereby define[s] multiple crimes”)

Under section 164.205(2), the term “dwelling” means a building which regularly or intermittently is occupied by a person lodging therein at night, whether or not a person is actually present. However, the BIA ruled that the statute was not divisible as to whether the building was occupied or not, cutting of any examination of the record with respect to that aspect of the crime.

The records in the instant case contained no equivocation regarding the nature of the respondent’s conviction. In fact, once the statute in the instant case was treated as divisible as to “entering or remaining unlawfully,” the record clearly identified the crime of which the respondent was convicted. As the BIA stated expressly, “the judgment and plea agreement for the respondent’s conviction show that he pleaded to “Burglary I” as charged in Count 2 of the charging document, which alleged that the offense occurred ‘in an occupied dwelling.’” Consequently, the BIA affirmed the IJ’s conclusion that, “according to the respondent’s record of conviction, he was convicted under the prong of section 164.225 that requires entering or remaining unlawfully in a “dwelling” with the intent to commit a crime.” Id. at 86.

But that begs the question.

Today’s decision in Matter of J-G-D-F-, expands on the BIA’s prior precedent in Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. 754, 756 (BIA 2009), and distorts the longstanding BIA standard requiring that crimes involving moral turpitude must contain “two essential elements: reprehensible conduct and a culpable mental state,” Matter of Silva-Trevino, 26 I&N Dec. 826, 834 (BIA 2016). Prior to Louissant, the BIA honored the reasonable limitation that a crime was to be considered a CIMT only if the crime accompanying the unlawful entry was itself turpitudinous.

In Louissaint, the BIA held that the “conscious and overt act of unlawfully entering or remaining in an occupied dwelling with the intent to commit a crime is inherently ‘reprehensible conduct’ committed ‘with some form of scienter.’” Matter of F-G-D-F-, supra. at 87 (quoting Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. at 758 (citation omitted)). The rationale underlying this conclusion was the fact that the building was occupied and the victim’s presence involved an expectation of privacy and security. By drawing the conclusion that every unlawful entry of a dwelling, whether occupied or not at the time of the offense, amounts to “reprehensible conduct” the BIA evades prior caselaw which had focused on the specific crime that was intended. Cf. Matter of M-, 2 I&N Dec. 721 (BIA, A.G. 1946).

c. 2017 Lory D. Rosenberg,

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Nolan Rappaport  asked me what I think, pointing out that burglary is a serious crime. I agree that burglary is a serious crime, but that doesn’t necessarily answer the question of whether it involves moral turpitude.

As Lory points out, in an early precedent, Matter of M-, 2 I&N Dec. 721 (BIA, AG 1946), the BIA found that the key to moral turpitude in a burglary conviction is not the breaking and entering into the building itself, but the nature of the crime the individual intended to commit following the breaking and entering.

Later, in Matter of Louissaint, 24 I&N Dec. 754, 756 (BIA 2009), the BIA chipped away at the M- rule. The Board focused on the breaking and entering, rather than the crime, and held that burglary of an occupied dwelling is a categorical cimt, without regard to what crime the respondent might have intended.

In Matter of J-G-D-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 82 (BIA 2017) the BIA basically annihilated the M- rule by holding that entry into a dwelling that might be occupied was a categorical cimt without regard to the crime intended.

As a trial judge, I found the M- rule relatively straightforward and easy to apply (or as straightforward and easy to apply as anything in the convoluted cimt area).  Applying that rule to the facts in J-G-D-F-, under the “categorical” approach, the “least possible crime” included in NC first degree burglary would be entry into an unoccupied dwelling in possession of burglary tools. I would find that not to be a cimt.

Applying the Louissaint expansion, I would have concluded because unlike Louissant the dwelling was unoccupied, there was still no cimt.

But, of course applying J-G-D-F-, I would have been required to find a cimt.

So, the current state of the law at the BIA appears to be this. First, apply M– to see if you can find a cimt.

If not, second, see if an occupied dwelling was involved so that the respondent has committed a cimt under Louissaint.
If not, third, see if an unoccupied dwelling might have been involved so that it’s a cimt under J-G-D-F-
Fourth, if all of the foregoing steps fail to produce a cimt, the judge should think of some other rationale for finding a cimt. Because, if the judge doesn’t and the DHS appeals, the BIA will find one anyway. After all, burglary sounds bad.
I find it interesting and somewhat ironic that after the Matter of M- approach gained acceptance from the 9th Circuit, where most petitions to review BIA decisions arise, the BIA has chosen to basically overrule M- without specifically saying so.
In the past decade and one-half, the BIA has often taken the most inclusive position on criminal removal statutes. As a result, the BIA is overruled with some regularity on petitions for review by the Federal Circuit Courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. The latter has been particularly critical of the BIA’s inclusive approach to minor drug convictions.
Notwithstanding this, I wouldn’t expect any change in the BIA’s “hard line approach” to criminal removal under the Sessions regime. After all, the “new mission” of EOIR is to churn out as many final removal orders as possible as quickly as possible with as little due process as possible. And, expansive readings of criminal removal statutes also helps produce more mandatory detention (which Jeff Sessions loves, along with those who are making a killing running private detention centers with substandard conditions).
So from a “job retention” standpoint, getting reversed on review by the Federal Courts probably won’t be a problem for Immigration Judges and Appellate Immigration Judges within DOJ as long as the reversals come in the context of expanding removals and restricting due process.
Finally, I’d never bet against Judge Lory Rosenberg’s analysis on any criminal immigration matter. Lory always had a much better handle on where the Federal Courts were going on criminal removal than the rest of us BIA Appellate Judges, including me. And, over the years since she was forced out of her judicial position, she has been proved right over and over by Federal Courts including the Supremes. Indeed, the Supremes cited one of her dissents in reversing the BIA in St. Cyr (check out FN 52). I’m not aware of any other BIA Appellate Judge who has been cited by name. (Although my good friend and beloved former colleague Judge Wayne Stogner of the New Orleans Immigration Court did get an individual “shout out” for his carefully analyzed trial decision in Nuegusie v. Holder.)
At this point, I’m thinking that Lory’s view will prevail in at least come Circuits. Time will tell.