Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Petitioners overstayed their permission to visit the United States 20 years ago, and they’ve been here ever since. For the second time after they were ordered removed, they asked the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) to reopen their removal proceedings. For the second time, the Board refused.On appeal, Petitioners focused on the BIA’s failure to consider certain evidence of changed country conditions. They argue that amounted to an abuse of discretion. (They also argue the BIA committed various other errors.)The Fifth Circuit denied their petition, holding that (A) Petitioners’ claims are number-barred. Then the court wrote that it (B) rejected Petitioners’ resort to federal regulations and instead apply the statute as written. Finally, the court (C) denied the petition without remanding it to the BIA. The court explained that the number bar is a separate impediment to relief. The INA first lays out the number bar: Petitioners generally get one and only one motion to reopen. Section 1229a(c)(7)(A). Then the statute creates one and only one exception. In the same sentence as the number bar itself, Congress said: “[T]his limitation shall not apply so as to prevent the filing of one motion to reopen described in subparagraph (C)(iv).” And everyone agrees that petitioners do not qualify for the single statutory exception to the number bar in (C)(iv). Thus, Petitioners'’ motion to reopen is number-barred. View "Djie v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The federal government may deny admission or adjustment of status to a noncitizen “likely at any time to become a public charge, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(A). For decades, “public charge” was understood to refer to noncitizens “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the meaning of “public charge” to disqualify a broader set of noncitizens from benefits. The Rule immediately generated extensive litigation.In 2020, the district court vacated the 2019 Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701. In 2021, the federal government dismissed appeals defending the 2019 Rule in courts around the country. Several states subsequently sought to intervene in the proceedings, hoping to defend the 2019 Rule; they also moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). The district court denied the motions, finding each untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to timeliness. The court declined to address other issues. View "Cook County, Illinois v. State of Texas" on Justia Law

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The named plaintiffs, aliens who were detained under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6) after reentering the United States illegally, filed a putative class action, alleging that aliens detained under section 1231(a)(6) are entitled to bond hearings after six months’ detention. The district court certified a class of similarly situated plaintiffs and enjoined the government from detaining the class members under section 1231(a)(6) for more than 180 days without providing each a bond hearing. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.The Supreme Court reversed. INA section 1252(f )(1) deprived the district courts of jurisdiction to entertain aliens’ requests for class-wide injunctive relief. Section 1252(f )(1) generally strips lower courts of jurisdiction or authority to “enjoin or restrain the operation of ” certain INA provisions. Section 1252(f )(1)’s one exception allows lower courts to “enjoin or restrain the operation of ” the relevant statutory provisions “with respect to the application of such provisions to an individual alien against whom proceedings under such part have been initiated.” Here, both district courts entered injunctions that “enjoin or restrain the operation” of section 1231(a)(6) because they require officials to take actions that (in the government’s view) are not required by 1231(a)(6) and to refrain from actions that are allowed; the injunctions do not fall within the exception for individualized relief. Section 1252(f )(1) refers to “an individual,” not “individuals.” View "Garland v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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8 U.S.C. Section 1226(a) permits the Attorney General to detain aliens pending their removal hearings. Under those procedures, an alien is given notice and three opportunities to seek release by showing they are neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.   A district court determined that a class of aliens had a likelihood of establishing that those procedures violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. That court then issued a preliminary injunction ordering, on a class-wide basis, that to continue detaining an alien under Section 1226(a), the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that an alien is either a flight risk or a danger to the community. The district court also required immigration judges to consider an alien’s ability to pay any bond imposed and consider alternatives to detention.   The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court’s preliminary injunction order and held that under Section 1252(f)(1), the district court lacked jurisdiction to issue class-wide injunctive relief that enjoined or restrained the process used to conduct Section 1226(a) bond hearings. Further, the detention procedures adopted for Section 1226(a) bond hearings provide sufficient process to satisfy constitutional requirements. The court concluded for that reason-the aliens are unable to establish a likelihood of success on their due process claims. Nor have they shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in their favor or that an injunction is in the public interest. View "Marvin Miranda v. Merrick Garland" on Justia Law

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Patel, who entered the United States illegally in the 1990s, applied for adjustment of status, 8 U.S.C. 1255. Because Patel had previously checked a box on a Georgia driver’s license application falsely stating that he was a U.S. citizen, USCIS denied the application. Section 1182(a)(6)(C)(ii)(I) renders inadmissible a noncitizen who falsely represents himself to be a citizen for any legal benefit. In removal proceedings based on his illegal entry, Patel renewed his adjustment of status request, arguing that he had mistakenly checked the “citizen” box and lacked the subjective intent necessary to violate the federal statute.The BIA dismissed Patel’s appeal from a subsequent removal order. The Eleventh Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider Patel’s claim. Section 1252(a)(2)(B)(i) prohibits judicial review of “any judgment regarding the granting of relief” under 1255, except “constitutional claims” or “questions of law.” The court concluded that the determinations of whether Patel had testified credibly and of subjective intent each qualified as an unreviewable judgment.The Supreme Court affirmed. Federal courts lack jurisdiction to review facts found as part of discretionary-relief proceedings under section 1255 and the other provisions enumerated in section 1252(a)(2)(B)(i). This case largely turns on the scope of the word “judgment." A “judgment” does not necessarily involve discretion, nor does context indicate that only discretionary judgments are covered by section 1252(a)(2)(B)(i). Using the word "judgment" to describe the fact determinations at issue here "is perfectly natural.” The Court rejected arguments that the statute is ambiguous enough to trigger the presumption that Congress did not intend to foreclose judicial review. View "Patel v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (the ACLU) filed a complaint against the Calhoun County Jail and Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office (the CCSO), alleging CCSO violated Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when it denied the ACLU’s request for documents. The ACLU sought disclosure of all records related to the December 2018 detention of United States citizen Jilmar Benigno Ramos-Gomez. Ramos-Gomez’s three-day detention at the Calhoun County Correctional Facility occurred pursuant to an Intergovernmental Service Agreement executed between United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the jail. The CCSO denied the ACLU’s request, asserting that the requested records were exempt from disclosure under MCL 15.243(1)(d) because they related to an ICE detainee. The Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal, finding the records at issue were exempt public records from disclosure under the statute. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, finding error in that court holding a federal regulation had the legal force of a federal statute; "federal regulation is not a federal statute." The case was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan v. Calhoun County" on Justia Law

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) entered into a contract with the City of Holtville (City) to detain noncitizens at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility (Facility). The City did not own the Facility, so the City subcontracted its detention responsibilities to the Facility’s owner. The owner did not operate the facility, so the owner subcontracted its responsibilities (with ICE’s approval) to a private operator, real party in interest Management & Training Corporation (Operator). Petitioner Anna Von Herrmann served the Operator with a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request regarding the Facility. Operator refused to comply, reasoning it was not subject to the CPRA because it did not have a contract directly with the City, and, thus, the Facility was not one that “detains a noncitizen pursuant to a contract with a city.” Alternatively, Operator contended several CPRA exemptions applied. Petitioner sought a writ of mandate from the trial court compelling Operator to comply with the CPRA request, but the court agreed with Operator’s interpretation of California Civil Code section 1670.9(c) and denied the petition without reaching Operator’s CPRA exemption claims. The Court of Appeal agreed the trial court construed section 1670.9(c) too narrowly as applying the CPRA only to an entity that contracts directly with a city to detain noncitizens. "[T]he structure of section 1670.9 as a whole, indicate the Legislature intended for the CPRA to apply to immigration detention facilities on a facility-wide basis rather than an entity-specific basis." The Court issued a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its order denying the petition and to enter a new order granting it, subject to resolution of Operator’s CPRA exemption claims. View "Von Herrmann v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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This action involved a request for documents under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Plaintiff, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (the ACLU), submitted a FOIA request to defendant, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office (the CCSO), seeking disclosure of all records related to the December 2018 detention of United States citizen Jilmar Benigno Ramos-Gomez. Ramos-Gomez’s three-day detention at the Calhoun County Correctional Facility occurred pursuant to an Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) executed between United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the jail. The CCSO denied the ACLU’s request, asserting that the requested records were exempt from disclosure under MCL 15.243(1)(d) because they related to an ICE detainee. The issue this case presented for the Michigan Supreme Court's review centered on whether a federal regulation with a nondisclosure component, 8 CFR 236.6 (2021), could be the basis for exempting public records from disclosure under MCL 15.243(1)(d). The Supreme Court held that it could not, "for the simple reason that a regulation is not a statute." The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ holding to the contrary, and the Court overruled Soave v. Dep’t of Ed, and Mich Council of Trout Unlimited v. Dep’t of Military Affairs, as to their erroneous interpretations of MCL 15.243(1)(d). The case was remanded back to the Calhoun Circuit Court for further proceedings. View "American Civil Liberties Union Of Michigan v. Calhoun County Sheriff's Office" on Justia Law

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Nkemchap Nelvis Takwi sought review of a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing his appeal from a removal order entered by an Immigration Judge (IJ) and denying his motion to remand. Mr. Takwi was a 36-year-old native and citizen of Cameroon. In August 2019, he came to the United States without authorization and claimed he would be persecuted if returned to Cameroon. An asylum officer conducted an interview and found Mr. Takwi had a “credible fear of persecution.” Shortly thereafter, the government charged Mr. Takwi as “subject to removal” because he was a noncitizen who attempted to enter the United States without valid entry documents. The Tenth Circuit granted the petition and remanded this matter to the BIA because the IJ did not make an explicit adverse credibility determination, and the BIA did not afford Mr. Takwi the required rebuttable presumption of credibility. View "Takwi v. Garland" on Justia Law

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Ge, then a citizen of China, entered the U.S. on a student visa. After pursuing his education for four years, he enlisted in the Army through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which allows foreign nationals to enlist in the armed forces and thereafter apply for naturalization under 8 U.S.C. 1440(a). Ge filed his application in May 2016. After completing interviews and tests administered by USCIS, he received notice in July 2017, that his naturalization oath ceremony had been scheduled for later that month. Days later, he was informed that the ceremony had been canceled. USCIS had a new policy, requiring that enhanced Department of Defense background checks for all MAVNI applicants before their naturalization applications could be granted.Ge filed suit in December 2018, under 8 U.S.C. 1447(b). The district court directed USCIS to adjudicate Ge’s naturalization application within 45 days. Shortly after the court’s remand order, Ge reported that he had been sworn in as a citizen. The court dismissed Ge’s action. Ge then sought attorneys fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412, alleging that he was the “prevailing party” and that USCIS’s position was not “justified in law and fact at all stages.” The district court denied his motion, ruling that Ge did not qualify as a prevailing party because its remand was not a judgment on the merits or consent decree that created a “material alteration of the legal relationship of the parties.” The Fourth Circuit affirmed. After the remand order, Ge was still the applicant; USCIS was still the agency that could grant or deny the application. The legal relationship had not changed. View "Ge v. United States Citizenship & Immigration Services" on Justia Law