Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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In 2021, Respondent-Appellant left Brazil with her daughter, Y.F.G., and eventually entered the United States. The child’s father, Petitioner-Appellee, shared custody of Y.F.G., and he petitioned for the child’s return to Brazil under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act.Following a bench trial at which both parents testified, the district court ordered that Y.F.G. be returned to Brazil. The district court expressly found Father not to be credible, but because the district court concluded that Mother did not provide independent corroboration to support her own testimony, the district court found she had not established by clear and convincing evidence a “grave risk” of harm to Y.F.G. in Brazil.The Eleventh Circuit reversed. The court explained that when a factfinder does not believe an interested witness’s testimony, it may—but is not required to—consider that witness’s discredited testimony as corroborating substantive evidence that the opposite of the testimony is true. And when a single witness provides the only evidence on some point, that testimony, without corroboration, can still meet the standard of clear and convincing evidence if the factfinder concludes that it is credible. The district court failed to take these principles into account, requiring reversal. View "Wellekson Goncalves Silva v. Andriene Ferreira dos Santos" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Peru, appeals the Board of Immigration Appeals’ determination that she is ineligible for relief under 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(b)(2), a provision whose language was originally adopted as part of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and that outlines the conditions under which certain “battered spouses or children” qualify for discretionary cancellation of removal. As relevant here, it requires a petitioning alien to show that she “has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty” by her spouse or parent. Petitioner contends that the Immigration Judge and the BIA made two errors in refusing her cancellation request. First, she maintains that, as a matter of law, they misinterpreted the statutory term “extreme cruelty” to require proof of physical—as distinguished from mental or emotional—abuse. And second, she asserts that having misread the law, the IJ and the BIA wrongly concluded that she doesn’t qualify for discretionary relief.   The Eleventh Circuit agreed with Petitioner that the IJ and the BIA misinterpreted Section 1229b(b)(2) and thereby applied an erroneous legal standard in evaluating her request for cancellation of removal. The court explained that the term “extreme cruelty” does not require a petitioning alien to prove that she suffered physical abuse in order to qualify for discretionary cancellation of removal; proof of mental or emotional abuse is sufficient to satisfy the “extreme cruelty” prong of Section 1229b(b)(2)’s five-prong standard. Accordingly, the court granted her petition for review and remand to the BIA for further consideration. View "Esmelda Ruiz v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Petitioner petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) order (1) affirming the Immigration Judge’s (“IJ”) denial of his application for cancellation of removal and dismissing his appeal, and (2) denying his motion to reopen and remand his removal proceedings. Petitioner, a citizen of Mexico, conceded removability. This petition is about only his application for cancellation of his removal. The main grounds for both his appeal to the BIA and his motion to reopen were Petitioner’s claim that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance and denied him constitutional due process as to his cancellation-of-removal application.   The Eleventh Circuit concluded as to the denial of Petitioner’s application that: (1) cancellation of removal is a purely discretionary form of relief from removal; (2) Petitioner does not have a constitutionally protected liberty interest in that purely discretionary relief; and (3) therefore, Petitioner’s constitutional due process claim is meritless, and we lack jurisdiction to entertain it under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”).   As to Petitioner’s ineffective assistance claims in his motion to reopen and remand, the court concluded that: (1) Petitioner cannot establish a constitutional due process violation based on the BIA’s denial of his motion to reopen because he does not have a protected liberty interest in either discretionary cancellation of removal or in the granting of a motion to reopen; (2) the BIA properly followed its legal precedent and (3) the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain Petitioner’s challenge to the denial of his motion to reopen. View "Rosendo Ponce Flores v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a Cuban immigrant, sought immigration relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) as well as through and application for asylum, and withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). The Immigration Judge denied the petitions, based on two inconsistencies with Petitioner's testimony. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals' affirmance of the Immigration Judge's denial of Petitioner's immigration application, finding the record lacks substantial evidence that would allow the court to affirm the Immigration Judge's adverse credibility determination. The court noted that the inconsistencies were involved translated statements that more properly seen as were "approximations." Thus, the court determined that the Immigration Judge committed clear error in making an adverse credibility determination. View "Ignacio Balaez Serra v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Petitioner is a native and citizen of Jamaica who was admitted to the United States in 2002 and who became a lawful permanent resident in 2003. In February 2012, he pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the Georgia crime of family violence battery, for which he was sentenced to 12 months confinement that he was permitted to serve on probation.In March 2015, the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against Petitioner on the theory that his Georgia family violence battery conviction was an “aggravated felony” under the INA, making him removable. Petitioner challenged this classification and claimed he was entitled to relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).First, the 11th Circuit held that Petitioner's conviction in Georgia was an "aggravated felony," finding that his probationary sentence still qualified as "incarceration." Second, pertaining to his request for CAT relief, the court held Petitioner failed to show the likelihood of government involvement or acquiescence in any torture by the Jamaican government. View "Karastan L. Edwards v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Petitioner a native and citizen of Bangladesh, seeks a review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) final order affirming the immigration judge’s denial of his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”). In the removal proceedings, the immigration judge made an adverse credibility determination against Petitioner based on (1) inconsistencies and omissions between his hearing testimony and the documentary evidence in the record and (2) his demeanor at the hearing. The BIA affirmed the immigration judge’s adverse credibility determination, finding that it was not clearly erroneous and adopting much of the immigration judge’s reasoning.   On appeal, Petitioner argued that the BIA’s affirmance of the adverse credibility determination was an error. He contends that the findings in support of that determination are not supported by substantial evidence in the record and that the immigration judge failed to cite examples in her analysis of his demeanor.   The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for review, concluding that substantial evidence supports the adverse credibility determination against Petitioner. The court reasoned that the immigration judge and the BIA offered “specific, cogent reasons,” supported by substantial evidence in the record, for determining that Petitioner’s testimony was not credible, and this record does not compel the court to reverse that adverse credibility determination. View "Mehedi Hasan-Nayem v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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This appeal concerns the district court’s sua sponte dismissal of Plaintiff’s amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under 28 U.S.C. Section 1915A—the early screening provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Plaintiff contends that the district court erred in designating him a “prisoner” under the PLRA at the time he filed his pro se complaint and that the district court further erred in ordering him to pay a filing fee before the district court.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling. The court held that the district court erred in applying the PLRA to Plaintiff’s action because Plaintiff, as a civil detainee in ICE custody, was not a “prisoner” under the PLRA when he filed his action. Thus, Plaintiff’s complaint must be viewed by the district court in the first instance and outside of the context of the PLRA on remand. Moreover, as Plaintiff was not a “prisoner” for purposes of the PLRA at the time that he filed this action, on remand, the court directed the district court to return the filing fees paid by Plaintiff pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(b)(1). Further, regarding Plaintiff’s motion before this Court seeking a return of the appellate filing fees paid pursuant to the PLRA, that motion is granted and the Clerk is directed to refund to Plaintiff the appellate filing fees paid by him to pursue this appeal. View "Lyncoln Danglar v. State of Georgia, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioner petitioned for review of the denial of his motion to reopen his removal proceedings. After receiving a notice to appear that initiated his removal proceedings and advised him of his obligation to keep his address up-to-date with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Petitioner moved and did not send the agency his new address. The immigration court later sent Petitioner a notice informing him of the time and place of his removal hearing. Since he had moved, Petitioner did not receive that notice. He then failed to show up at his removal hearing and was ordered removed in absentia. Petitioner asserts that he was improperly ordered removed in absentia because he did not receive the notice of his removal hearing the agency was required to provide under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).   The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition. The court explained that once he received a notice to appear warning him of his obligation to update the agency when he changed addresses, Petitioner was on the hook to follow through with that instruction. Because he failed to keep DHS apprised of his whereabouts, the INA allowed for Petitioner’s removal in absentia even though he never received the later notice informing him of his removal hearing’s time and place. Thus, the court wrote that Petitioner’s removal order complied with the statute’s requirements. View "Andrei Dragomirescu v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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An Immigration Judge determined that Petitioner was ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal because she was convicted of a particularly serious crime and denied her application for protection under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”), and the Board affirmed her decision without opinion. Petitioner raised three challenges to these proceedings: (1) that the Immigration Judge did not give reasoned consideration to all of the relevant evidence in determining that Petitioner had not met her burden of showing that she would more likely than not be tortured by, or with the acquiescence of, the Guyanese government if returned to Guyana, or that her conclusion was not supported by substantial evidence; (2) that the Immigration Judge erred in not making a separate determination that Petitioner posed a danger to the community, in addition to finding that she had committed a particularly serious crime; and (3) that the Immigration Judge erred in finding that Petitioner committed a particularly serious crime.   The Eleventh Circuit denied the Petitioner’s petition in part and dismissed in part. The court explained that while it agrees that the evidence Petitioner presented demonstrated pervasive and disturbing discrimination and harassment against the LGBT community in Guyana, the Immigration Judge’s determination that Petitioner had not established that it was more likely than not that she would be tortured by or with the acquiescence of the government if she returned to Guyana was supported by substantial evidence. Further, the court held that the INA “does not abate our power to review the decision that Petitioner was convicted of a particularly serious crime.” View "K.Y. v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Appellant, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was a lawful resident of the United States when, in 1996, he was convicted for the attempted sale of cocaine under New York Penal Law Sec. 220.39(1). He was sentenced to five years' probation. In 2018, Appellant applied for naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS"). However, USCIS determined that Appellant's 1996 conviction qualified as an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1101(a)(43).Appellant unsuccessfully sought an administrative appeal of the USCIS decision and then brought this action in the district court. The district court affirmed and Appellant appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, finding that Appellant's 1996 conviction under Sec. 220.39(1) qualifies as an aggravated felony within the plain meaning of the Immigration and Nationality Act. View "Elvis Leonel Morfa Diaz v. Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, et al." on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law