Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law

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Plaintiffs won the 2017 diversity visa lottery but were denied visas pursuant to the State Department's Guidance Memo. The Guidance Memo instructed consular officers reviewing diversity visa applications about how President Trump's Executive Order temporarily prohibiting nationals of specific countries from entering the United States (EO2) affected visa eligibility. In this case, plaintiffs were denied visas because they were from Iran and Yemen—countries subject to the entry ban—and could not qualify for exemptions or waivers or satisfy the bona fide relationship requirement in Trump v. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP I), 137 S. Ct. 2080, 2088 (2017). After EO-2 expired, it was replaced by President Trump's third iteration of the travel ban, the Proclamation. After the Supreme Court explained that challenges to the expired EO-2 were moot, and the government then filed a motion to dismiss this case as moot. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's determination that this case was moot, and held that plaintiffs' claims -- seeking a court order instructing the government to stop implementing the Guidance Memo, process their visa applications, and issue them diversity visas -- were not moot because whether the district court retains the authority to award plaintiffs relief is a merits question. The court held that neither plaintiffs' claim that such relief was legally available nor their claim that they were entitled to that relief was so implausible as to deprive the district court of jurisdiction. Furthermore, there was some chance that this relief would be effective at securing their immigration to the United States. View "Almaqrami v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success in connection with their claim that ORR's restriction on abortion access infringes their protected right to choose to terminate their pregnancies. In 2017, the government instituted a policy effectively barring any unaccompanied alien child in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) from obtaining a pre-viability abortion. The district court granted a preliminary injunction and the government appealed. Agreeing that the case was not moot, the DC Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying a class consisting of pregnant unaccompanied minors in the government's custody. On the merits, the court held that, under binding Supreme Court precedent, a person has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy before fetal viability, and the government cannot unduly burden her decision. Consequently, these controlling principles dictate affirming the district court's preliminary injunction against the government's blanket denial of access to abortion for unaccompanied minors. The court vacated in part and remanded to the extent that the preliminary injunction barred disclosure to parents and others of unaccompanied minors' pregnancies and abortion decisions. The court held that this portion of the preliminary injunction warranted further explication to aid appellate review. View "J.D. v. Azar" on Justia Law

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After ICE changed how it calculated overtime pay for certain employees, the union filed a grievance, alleging that ICE changed the policy without first bargaining. The DC Circuit agreed with the Authority's determination that ICE had no duty to bargain with the union before changing its overtime policy because ICE's previous policy was unlawful. In this case, ICE's previous policy of excluding leave time was unlawful under a straightforward reading of the 1997 Guidance and the 2002 amendments to the regulations. View "American Federation of Government Employees National Council v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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The United States appealed the district court's decision that it was unnecessary to detain defendant in order to ensure his presence at a criminal trial and that releasing him pre-trial meant that ICE could not civilly detain him in order to remove him from the country. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's decision declining to detain defendant pending trial and held that the district judge did not clearly err in finding that defendant was not a flight risk. However, the court reversed the district court's decision prohibiting ICE from civilly detaining him pending removal and held that there was no constitutional conflict where the Department of Homeland Security's detention of a criminal defendant alien for the purpose of removal did not infringe on the judiciary's role in criminal proceedings. View "United States v. Vasquez-Benitez" on Justia Law

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The Project and four individual herders challenged the agencies' 364-day certification period for H-2A visas, which allowed nonimmigrants to enter the country to perform certain agricultural work. The DC Circuit held that the Project's complaint adequately raised a challenge to the Department of Homeland Security's practice of automatically extending "temporary" H-2A petitions for multiple years; the Project adequately preserved its challenge to the Department of Labor's decision in the 2015 Rule to classify herding as "temporary" employment; the 2015 Rule's minimum wage rate for herders was not arbitrary, capricious, or unsupported by the record; and the Project lacked standing to challenge the wage rates set by the already-vacated 2011 Guidance Letter. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hispanic Affairs Project v. Acosta" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for USCIS in an action filed by plaintiff, under the Administrative Procedure Act, to renounce his United States citizenship. USCIS denied plaintiff's renunciation request, claiming that he lacked the "intention" necessary to relinquish his citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Determining that plaintiff's claim was ripe for review, the court held that the Tritten Letter's interpretation of "intention" in 8 U.S.C. 1481 did not warrant Chevron deference. Absent Chevron deference, the court held that USCIS's interpretation was in tension with the statute's structure; USCIS's interpretation rested on a faulty premise that plaintiff did not intend to relinquish his citizenship because one's mere physical presence in the United States did not require exercising a right of citizenship; and USCIS purported to adopt the State Department's interpretation of the intention requirement, but it misconstrued the State Department's approach. Therefore, the Tritten Letter's interpretation of "intention" was impermissible. View "Kaufman v. Nielsen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Washtech, a union representing workers throughout the country in the STEM labor market, challenged DHS's regulations allowing nonimmigrant aliens temporarily admitted to the country as students to remain in the country for up to three years after finishing a STEM degree to pursue work related to their degree. The DC Circuit held that Washtech had standing to bring challenges to the 2016 Rule under the doctrine of competitor standing; affirmed the dismissal of Washtech's challenge to the 1992 Rule as time-barred; reversed the dismissal of Washtech's challenge in Count II (challenging DHS's statutory authority) because the district court abused its discretion in dismissing a plausible claim of relief based on Washtech's inadequate opposition to DHS's motion to dismiss; remanded as to Count II; and affirmed the district court's dismissal of Counts III (alleging procedural deficiencies) and IV (alleging rule was arbitrary and capricious) under Federal Rule of Civil procedure 12(b)(6) because neither stated a plausible claim for relief. View "Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. DHS" on Justia Law

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Washtech, a union representing workers throughout the country in the STEM labor market, challenged DHS's regulations allowing nonimmigrant aliens temporarily admitted to the country as students to remain in the country for up to three years after finishing a STEM degree to pursue work related to their degree. The DC Circuit held that Washtech had standing to bring challenges to the 2016 Rule under the doctrine of competitor standing; affirmed the dismissal of Washtech's challenge to the 1992 Rule as time-barred; reversed the dismissal of Washtech's challenge in Count II (challenging DHS's statutory authority) because the district court abused its discretion in dismissing a plausible claim of relief based on Washtech's inadequate opposition to DHS's motion to dismiss; remanded as to Count II; and affirmed the district court's dismissal of Counts III (alleging procedural deficiencies) and IV (alleging rule was arbitrary and capricious) under Federal Rule of Civil procedure 12(b)(6) because neither stated a plausible claim for relief. View "Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. DHS" on Justia Law

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After USCIS discovered that an employee had illegally issued nearly 200 certificates of naturalization to individuals who had not satisfied the requirements to become U.S. citizens, the government canceled certificates of naturalization to individuals, including plaintiffs here, without seeking a court order. The State Department then administratively revoked or refused to renew their passports. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims that the government's revocations of their certificates of naturalization and their passports violated the Immigration and Nationality Act and due process because they took place through administrative rather than judicial process; affirmed the dismissal of their claims of ethnicity or national origin discrimination; and reversed insofar as the district court held that any plaintiff was barred by failure to exhaust administrative remedies from challenging under the Administrative Procedure Act the government's failure to afford plaintiffs the review the law requires, and pursuing 8 U.S.C. 1503 claims in the correct venues. Accordingly, the court remanded in part. View "Xia v. Tillerson" on Justia Law

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AILA submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552 et seq., requests for disclosure of records related to complaints about the conduct of immigration judges. The government disclosed thousands of pages of records, but redacted information in those records that it believes is either statutorily exempt from disclosure or non-responsive to the request. The district court upheld both categories of redactions. The court concluded that the government's across-the-board approach of redacting the immigration judges’ names from all of the disclosed records cannot be sustained in light of the variety of privacy and public interests that may be at stake in connection with the disclosure of an immigration judge’s name. Therefore, the court remanded for a more individualized inquiry into the propriety of redacting judges’ names. In this case, the government, after determining that records were responsive to AILA’s request, redacted discrete information within the records on the basis of non-responsiveness even if no statutory exemption shielded the information from disclosure. The court concluded that such an approach cannot be squared with the statutory scheme. Finally, the court agreed with the district court that complaint resolutions fall outside the statute’s affirmative disclosure mandate. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "American Immigration Lawyers v. Exec. Office for Immigration" on Justia Law