Naturalizing Immigration Imprisonment

Every day, roughly 33,000 people spend the night imprisoned while waiting to learn whether they will be allowed to remain in the United States. Thousands more are confined on charges of having committed an immigration crime. Others are behind bars because they were already convicted. The substantive law that applies to people in each of these categories differs: civil law governed by the Immigration and Naturalization Act for those in removal proceedings, and criminal law governed by the federal penal code (and, to a smaller degree, its state counterparts). That is largely where the [...]

California ballot initiative promises big crimmigration law changes

California voters who head to the polls on November 4 stand to make significant changes to the adverse impact that immigration law has on migrants if they support Proposition 47. Titled the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” Proposition 47 will reduce the penalties associated with a host of common offenses in such a way that migrants will continue to be punished through criminal law but will be more likely to avoid a second round of punishment under immigration law. If passed, it would also eliminate a significant recidivist offender statute that bumps many misdemeanors into the realm of an [...]

7 Cir: Stop-time rule does not apply retroactively

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck a blow to one major limitation that Congress imposed on cancellation of removal, the primary form of relief from removal available under the current version of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Jeudy v. Holder, No. A026-740-736, slip op. (7th Cir. September 15, 2014). Judge Hamilton wrote the panel’s decision. This case involved a migrant who became an LPR in 1989 and who was convicted of a drug offense in 1995. There is no question that his 1995 conviction rendered him removable. The more important question is whether his [...]

BIA: Limits 212(h) eligibility for conditional permanent residents

The BIA held that conditional permanent residents are barred from obtaining a waiver of inadmissibility under INA § 212(h). Matter of Paek, 26 I&N Dec. 403 (BIA September 17, 2014). Board Member Guendelsberger wrote the panel’s decision. The migrant in this case obtained conditional LPR status in 1991 through a marriage. After three convictions, he was placed in removal proceedings and found removable for having been convicted of two crimes involving moral turpitude and an aggravated felony. To avoid removal, he sought to readjust his status while simultaneously requesting a § 212(h) [...]

9 Cir: Arizona’s no bail law is unconstitutional

After years of litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit announced yesterday that Arizona’s no bail law for unauthorized migrants violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Lopez-Valenzuela v. Arpaio, No. 11-16487, slip op. (9th Cir. Oct. 15, 2014) (en banc). This case involved a facial challenge to Arizona’s Proposition 100, a slate of amendments to the state constitution that, among other things, prohibit state judges from setting bail of any amount for people charged with a slew of state felonies if the judge had probable cause to believe that the [...]

IJ: TX assault isn’t crime involving moral turpitude

Courts have long used the categorical approach to determine whether a migrant has been convicted of a removable offense. Along with its sibling, the modified categorical approach, this method of statutory interpretation is central to the work of crimmigration attorneys. In the last year, attorneys and courts have had much to consider as they’ve grappled with the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Descamps v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2276 (2013) (which I blogged about here). There the Court reiterated that the categorical approach remains the default method of statutory [...]

Immigration detention population drops in FY ‘13, while removals increase to all-time high

The Department of Homeland Security detained a remarkably large number of migrants in fiscal year 2013—440,557—but not as many as the record high reached the previous year. DHS, Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2013 Annual Report 6 (September 2014). Removals, meanwhile, increased to what the department calls an all-time high of 438,421. Id. People convicted of nothing more serious than an immigration offense continue to face removal in increasing numbers. The number of migrants detained over the course of FY 2013 was 36,966 fewer than the 477,523 detained the previous year. To contextualize [...]