Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Tescari and Salame, Venezuelan citizens, have two minor children. Tescari removed the children from their home in Venezuela and brought them with her to the U.S. Salame filed a petition seeking their return under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Abduction. Tescari and the children were granted asylum in the U.S.The parties stipulated that Salame had a prima facie of wrongful removal and retention. Tescari claimed an affirmative defense under Article 13(b) of the Convention, 22 U.S.C. 9003(e)(2). The court concluded Tescari failed to establish, by clear and convincing evidence, her affirmative defense that returning the children to Venezuela would subject them to a grave risk of physical or psychological harm or otherwise place them in an intolerable situation.The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Because the alleged abuse was relatively minor, the court had no discretion to refuse the petition nor to consider potential future harm. The determination that Salame could provide the children with shelter, food, and medication in Venezuela is not clearly erroneous. Despite Venezuela’s political schisms and civil unrest, Tescari failed to introduce sufficient evidence that it is a zone of war, famine, or disease. Any defects in the Venezuelan court system fall short of "an intolerable situation." While the factors that go into a grant of asylum may be relevant to Hague Convention determinations, the district court has a separate and exclusive responsibility to assess the applicability of an Article 13(b) affirmative defense. View "Ajami v. Solano" on Justia Law

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Sura served in the Salvadoran Army and helped local police arrest gang members, including members of MS-13. In February 2016, MS-13 members told him that they had an order for him to disappear. He did not report it to the police because he was concerned that some police officers were also MS-13 members. Sura continued his military service until it was completed, later testifying that he did not want to be AWOL. In May 2016, four men were murdered five kilometers from where Sura was stationed. According to an Interpol Red Notice, an arrest warrant was issued for Sura and others asserting that they murdered four MS-13 gang members.Sura entered the U.S. months later and was removed after stating that he had no fear of returning to El Salvador. Eight days later, he re-entered and was placed in withholding-only proceedings after expressing a fear of returning to El Salvador. Sura applied for withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture. Sura denied any prior knowledge of either arrest warrant and any role in the murders. Sura testified that he feared returning to El Salvador and being placed in custody based on false charges, where he would be vulnerable to MS-13 and his former colleagues who framed him.The IJ ordered Villalobos Sura removed, finding him statutorily ineligible for withholding of removal under the serious nonpolitical crime bar. The IJ found Sura’s testimony insufficiently credible and that the isolated threat did not amount to past persecution. The BIA affirmed. The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review. The Interpol Red Notice, among other evidence, created a serious reason to believe Sura committed a serious nonpolitical crime before entering the U.S., rendering him ineligible for withholding of removal. View "Villalobos-Sura v. Garland" on Justia Law

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In 1994, Farrell, a U.S. citizen, moved to Switzerland. He married a Swiss citizen; they had a child. In 2004, he naturalized as a Swiss citizen, allegedly with the intent of relinquishing his U.S. nationality; 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(1) refers to “voluntarily … with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality … obtaining naturalization in a foreign state.” He subsequently made no use of his U.S. citizenship and did not enter the U.S. In 2013, Farrell was arrested in Spain and extradited to the U.S. He pled guilty to interstate travel with intent to engage in sex with a minor and possession of child pornography, which he committed 10 years earlier in the U.S., and was sentenced to imprisonment in the U.S.Farrell corresponded with the State Department, requesting a certificate of loss of nationality (CLN). He was told he would have to sign forms in person in front of a consular officer. Farrell argued that he had already committed the expatriating act when he naturalized in Switzerland and was now attesting that he did so voluntarily with the intent to lose his nationality. The Embassy responded that Farrell could not lose his citizenship while he was imprisoned in the U.S. Farrell sued, claiming that the in-person requirement was contrary to statute and arbitrary. The D.C. Circuit reversed the district court. While the Department has statutory authority to impose an in-person requirement, it acted arbitrarily in denying Farrell a CLN by offering conflicting and ever-evolving reasons for denying the CLN. View "Farrell v. Blinken" on Justia Law

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Baan Rao Thai Restaurant and plaintiffs seek review of a consular officer's decision to deny visas for plaintiffs, asserting their claims fall within one of the consular nonreviewability doctrine's narrow exceptions.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint on the merits, rejecting plaintiffs' contention that the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States and Thailand expressly provides that judicial review is available. The court concluded that access provisions were longstanding and well understood at the time the U.S.-Thailand Treaty was entered into—and that understanding was that the provisions relate to procedural rights. In this case, plaintiffs' argument seeks to fashion a longstanding, common and well understood treaty provision into something it is not. The court also explained, as recently clarified by the United States Supreme Court, that a dismissal pursuant to the consular nonreviewability doctrine is a dismissal on the merits. View "Baan Rao Thai Restaurant v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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The Okeres, U.S. citizens, are trying to get their eight-year-old son from Nigeria to the United States. They applied for a “certificate of identity,” which validates the identity of a person living abroad who purports to be a U.S. citizen but has not presented enough evidence of citizenship to obtain a passport, 8 U.S.C. 1503(b). They sued, asserting that, after their son finally received a travel document from the State Department, he has been prevented from boarding a flight to the U.S. because the Consulate General refused to verify the certificate’s authenticity with the airlines with which they had booked flights for their son.The district court dismissed the Okeres’ complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Okeres identified no legal authority compelling the Consulate General to verify the authenticity of the certificate to the airlines. None of the federal statutes the Okeres invoked confers jurisdiction. Nor do any of the provisions identified in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual create individual rights or impose enforceable duties on a Consulate General when issuing a certificate of identity. The court stated that its decision was “most unsatisfying, for it is impossible to read the parties’ briefs without concluding that something else is going on here.” View "Okere v. United States" on Justia Law

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Jabateh was a rebel commander during the Liberian civil war. He later fled to the United States seeking asylum. His conduct in Liberia, characterized by brazen violence and wanton atrocities, made honest immigration application impossible. He concealed his crimes and portrayed himself as a persecuted victim. Jabateh’s fraud succeeded for almost 20 years.In 2016, Jabateh was charged with the fraud in his immigration documents, 18 U.S.C. 1546(a) and perjury, 18 U.S.C. 1621. The five-year limitations period for misconduct related to Jabateh's 2001 application for permanent residency had passed, leaving only Jabateh’s oral responses in a 2011 Interview affirming his answer of “no” to questions related to genocide and misrepresentations during his immigration applications. The district court noted “the force of the prosecution’s trial evidence,” establishing that Jabateh personally committed or ordered his troops to commit murder, enslavement, rape, and torture “because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.”The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and to Jabateh’s 360-month sentence. The court acknowledged that section 1546(a) criminalizes fraud in immigration documents and that Jabateh was not charged with fraud in his immigration documents, only with orally lying about those documents. Jabateh, however, failed to raise this argument at trial. “Given the novelty of the interpretative question, and the lack of persuasive" guidance, the court declined to hold that this reading of section 1546(a) meets the stringent standards for “plain error” reversal. View "United States v. Jabateh" on Justia Law

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Carrillo was involved in an extramarital relationship with Noeller. Carrillo’s family reported that Noeller called Carrillo, accused her of seeing someone else, and threatened her life; Noeller later came to her mother’s Mexico City house, where he shot and killed her. Noeller maintains that he ended their relationship after finding out about her family’s affiliation with the Los Pepes gang and Zetas drug cartel. He says that after the murder, he received warnings that Carrillo’s mother had hired hitmen to kill him. Noeller fled for the U.S. with his wife and children, who are U.S. citizens. Noeller's family members provided affidavits describing incidents after he left, in which gang members came to their homes looking for Noeller, threatened them, and beat them. During removal proceedings, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i), Noeller sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Immigration judges twice denied his applications. Noeller’s BIA appeal was pending when Mexico submitted its extradition request. Noeller challenged the warrant issued in Mexico by an “Amparo proceeding,” which is “similar to habeas corpus ... to review and annul unconstitutional judicial decisions.” Noeller claims that the court in Mexico suspended the warrant. Mexico’s government contends that the original arrest warrant remains enforceable. The district court granted extradition. Noeller sought habeas corpus relief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. Mexico submitted a valid request for extradition, which U.S. courts must honor. Noeller’s challenges to that request are “beyond the narrow role for courts in the extradition process.” View "Noeller v. Wojdylo" on Justia Law

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Asgari came to the U.S. for education, earning a doctorate in 1997. He returned to Iran and became a professor at Sharif University. His work involves transmission electron microscopy. Asgari traveled to the U.S. in 2011, stating on his visa application that he planned to visit New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles. He traveled to Cleveland to see an Iranian-American friend at Case Western’s Swagelok Center. They began collaborating. Asgari returned to Iran and obtained another visa for “temp[orary] business[/]pleasure,” identifying his destination as his son’s New York address. He applied for a job at Swagelok. The FBI investigated. The Center’s director stated that Asgari was on a sabbatical from Sharif University; that the Center conducted Navy-funded research; and that an opening had emerged on the project. Agent Boggs obtained a warrant to search Asgari’s personal email account for evidence that Asgari made materially false statements in his visa application and that Asgari violated the prohibition on exporting “any goods, technology, or services to Iran.” Based on information uncovered from that 2013 search, the government obtained another warrant to search Asgari’s subsequent emails. Indicted on 13 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud, and visa fraud, Asgari successfully moved to suppress the evidence. The Sixth Circuit reversed, applying the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. The affidavit was not “so skimpy, so conclusory, that anyone ... would necessarily have known it failed to demonstrate probable cause.” The sanctions on Iran are broad; probable cause is a lenient standard. View "United States v. Asgari" on Justia Law

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During the Rwandan Genocide, the United States admitted a limited number of refugees with priority given to those who were in the most danger, including, in 1998, Ngombwa and purported members of his family. In 1998, DHS received information from prosecutors in Rwanda that Ngombwa had twice been convicted in absentia by Rwandan tribal courts for participation in the Genocide and had been named in an indictment in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The government proved at trial that his admission, status, and eventual naturalization were based on material falsehoods. At sentencing, the government proved to the district court’s satisfaction that the falsehoods were used to conceal Ngombwa’s participation in the Genocide. The Eighth Circuit affirmed his convictions for unlawful procurement of naturalization and conspiracy to commit the same, 18 U.S.C. 1425, 371, and his above-Guidelines sentence of 180 months. Rejecting Ngombwa’s claim his counsel was ineffective for failing to contact and interview five of his family members, the court reasoned that counsel made a strategic decision to avoid more detrimental evidence. View "United States v. Ngombwa" on Justia Law

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The Board of Immigration Appeals found that Uddin, a citizen of Bangladesh, was ineligible for withholding of removal because he was a member of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP). The Board found that the BNP qualified as a Tier III terrorist organization under the “terrorism bar,” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III). The Third Circuit denied relief with respect to the Board’s ruling dismissing Uddin’s Convention Against Torture claim but remanded his withholding of removal claim. The Board pointed to terrorist acts by BNP members but it did not find that BNP leadership authorized any of the terrorist acts committed by party members. The court joined the reasoning of the Seventh Circuit and the Board in many of its own opinions by holding that unless the agency finds that party leaders authorized terrorist acts committed by its members, an entity such as the BNP cannot be deemed a Tier III terrorist organization. View "Uddin v. Attorney General United States" on Justia Law