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

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Miriyeva, a citizen of Azerbaijan, lawfully entered the U.S. and sought naturalization under 8 U.S.C. 1440. She enlisted in the U.S. Army through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, under which noncitizens have an expedited path to citizenship by serving honorably in the military without first having lawful permanent residence. In 2018, USCIS approved Miriyeva’s application. Before the agency scheduled Miriyeva’s oath of citizenship ceremony, the Army sent her to basic training. During training, a medical condition ended her service. The Army described Miriyeva’s separation as “uncharacterized” since her service ended while she was still at “entry-level.” After her medical discharge, Miriyeva scheduled her oath ceremony but the agency reversed its approval of her naturalization application because the military did not describe her separation as “honorable.”Miriyeva argued that the military refers to “uncharacterized” as “separated under honorable conditions,” when required to do so and that the Army’s policy of treating an uncharacterized separation as not under honorable conditions violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the Constitution’s Uniform Rule of Naturalization Clause, and the Due Process Clause. The district court dismissed Miriyeva’s declaratory judgment suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. 1421(c), which precluded Miriyeva’s Administrative Procedure Act and constitutional claims; her Declaratory Judgment Act claim failed without a different, standalone source of jurisdiction. The D.C. Circuit affirmed. Miriyeva strayed from the statutory path for judicial review of claims intertwined with denied naturalization applications. View "Miriyeva v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services" on Justia Law

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In 2002, Meza was served with a notice to appear, at a removal hearing, 8 U.S.C. 1229(a)(1), charging that he entered the country “at or near Brownsville, Texas,” and that he was “not then admitted or paroled after inspection by an Immigration Officer,” 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). An agent had observed him “wading the Rio Grande River.” An IJ ordered Meza removed in absentia. Meza neither appeared at his removal hearing nor filed a timely petition for review in the Eleventh Circuit. He remained in the U.S. In 2017, Meza applied for an adjustment of status. USCIS denied the application for lack of jurisdiction, reasoning that Meza was not an arriving alien, so the immigration courts had exclusive jurisdiction over the application. Meza argued that a checkbox on his notice to appear labeled him as an arriving alien and that immigration officers had paroled him into the U.S.The D.C. Circuit agreed with the district court that it lacked jurisdiction to review USCIS’s decision because Meza had not exhausted his administrative remedies. To succeed, Meza must show that he was an arriving alien, even though the IJ concluded otherwise; he seeks to contest a question of fact arising from his removal proceeding, which he could have done only by filing a timely petition for review of his removal order in the Eleventh Circuit. View "Meza v. Renaud" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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iTech filed an I-140 (petition for alien worker) immigrant visa petition on behalf of Reddy. USCIS approved the petition two months later. In its application, iTech produced evidence of its ability to pay the proffered wage and evidence that Reddy had obtained a bachelor’s degree, “in the form of a degree certificate from the University of Madras along with transcripts.” About 18 months later, USCIS issued a notice of intent to revoke the approval based on “inconsistencies in the record calling into question whether the beneficiary meets the educational requirements of the labor certification” and whether iTech “continues to demonstrate the ability to pay the proffered wage.”iTech provided additional documentation but USCIS revoked its approval on the basis that iTech misrepresented Reddy’s degree-conferring institution and employment qualifications, and did not establish its ability to pay the proffered wage. iTech brought suit, alleging that USCIS’s decision to revoke its I-140 petition was arbitrary and capricious because the agency failed to engage in rational decision-making based on the record. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The statute preserves the Secretary’s ability to revoke an I-140 petition at any time and for any reason and renders USCIS’s revocation decision discretionary under 8 U.S.C. 1155; section 1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) deprives the courts of jurisdiction to review the decision. View "iTech U.S., Inc v. Renaud" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration 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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A limited number of visas are available to foreign investors who create jobs in the United States; investors’ spouses and children have the “same status” and “same order of consideration” for those visas as the investors, 8 U.S.C. 1153(d). When the Department of State calculates how many visas it may issue for foreign investors, it includes an investor’s spouse and children in the total count. The Plaintiffs challenged that counting practice, arguing that the Department should have stopped counting family members against the total number of investor visas after Congress relocated the controlling text within the Act in 1990.The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the challenge. The statute required the Department’s approach before 1990, and it still does. Congress did nothing in 1990 to change the text’s meaning. Because spouses and children receive “the same order of consideration provided in the” employment-based visas subsection, which specifically caps employment-based visas, spouses and children are also subject to the 140,000- person cap on employment-based visas. View "Wang v. Blinken" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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After the Department of Labor determined that Overdevest had violated regulations governing the H-2A temporary visa program, the plant nursery challenged the regulations in district court. The Department concluded that Overdevest violated the H-2A regulations requiring employers to pay the adverse effect wage rate to any U.S. workers serving in corresponding employment. Overdevest argued that the regulations were an impermissible interpretation of the statute and were arbitrarily promulgated and enforced against Overdevest.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Department, concluding that 8 U.S.C. 1188(a)(1) is not unambiguous and the Department's definition of "corresponding employment" was reasonable. The court explained that the regulation advances the statute's purpose by ensuring that when H-2A workers are performing duties that do not implicate their qualifications, non-H-2A workers will not be placed at a disadvantage. The court rejected Overdevest's argument that the Department arbitrarily and capriciously promulgated the definition of corresponding employment. Finally, the court concluded that the Secretary's enforcement of the 2010 rule against Overdevest was not arbitrary and capricious. View "Overdevest Nurseries, LP v. Walsh" on Justia Law

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The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) includes expedited procedures to remove certain inadmissible aliens arriving at the border, 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1). The plaintiffs, inadmissible aliens caught trying to enter the country, sought asylum, or claimed to fear persecution had received adverse credible-fear determinations. They challenged the administration of credible-fear interviews under IIRIRA and the Transit Rule, which provides that aliens seeking to enter the U.S. at the southern border are ineligible for asylum unless they have already applied for asylum in a country through which they traveled while en route.They cited 11 sub-regulatory policies: Aliens receive no meaningful guidance on how interviews are conducted; interviewers are improperly trained; interviewers make decisions before the interview is complete; interviewers do not produce an adequate record. interviews are adversarial; interviews occur without adequate notice; interviews occur without access to counsel; interviewers do not apply the proper circuit precedent; credible-fear determinations are automatically reviewed for fraud; interviewers do not adequately state the basis for their decisions; children are subjected to long, adversarial interviews.The D.C. Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. IIRIRA barred its review of 10 of the cited policies because either the policy was unwritten or the challenges to it were untimely View "M.M.V. v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration 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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In 1990, Muthana was appointed as the First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Yemen to the U.N. In 1994, Yemen terminated Muthana and required him to surrender his diplomatic credentials and Muthana's daughter, Hoda, was born in New Jersey. In 1995, the U.N. notified the State Department that Yemen had terminated Muthana from his diplomatic post. Muthana, his wife, and Hoda’s older siblings became naturalized citizens. Muthana applied for Hoda’s U.S. passport, which issued in 2005. In 2014, Hoda traveled to Syria and joined ISIS as a spokeswoman, advocating the killing of Americans. She married two ISIS fighters in succession and had a child, Doe. In 2016, the State Department revoked Hoda’s passport. In 2018, Hoda and Doe fled to a camp in Syria. Secretary of State Pompeo issued a statement that Hoda is not a U.S. citizen. The president tweeted his approval. Muthana alleged these statements effectively revoked his daughter’s and grandson’s U.S. citizenship.The D.C. Circuit affirmed the rejection of his claims. Hoda’s father possessed diplomatic immunity when she was born, rendering her ineligible for citizenship by birth under the Fourteenth Amendment and her son ineligible for 8 U.S.C. 1401(g) citizenship. A child born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomat is not born “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. The court dismissed, for lack of jurisdiction, Muthana’s claim seeking to compel the U.S. to assist in bringing Hoda and Doe to the U.S. The court dismissed, for lack of standing, Muthana's request for a declaratory judgment that if he sent money and supplies to his daughter and grandson, he would not violate the prohibition on providing material support for terrorism, 18 U.S.C. 2339B; Muthana failed to allege a personal injury to his constitutional rights. View "Muthana v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Statewide filed three actions alleging that certain aspects of DHS's current administration of the immigration-bond system violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and Statewide's right to due process under the United States Constitution. The district court dismissed Statewide I for failure to state a claim and lack of jurisdiction, Statewide II on DHS's motion for judgment on the pleadings, and Statewide III for failure to state a claim.In Statewide I, plaintiffs sued DHS to prevent its collection on breached immigration bonds before the resolution of Statewide's pending untimely appeals; in Statewide II, plaintiffs sued DHS to prevent collection on breached immigration bonds because DHS provided allegedly defective Notices to Appear and Notices to Produce Alien before issuing bond breach determinations; and in Statewide III, plaintiffs sued DHS for rejecting appeals of bond breach determinations that Statewide alleges were timely filed.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the APA claims in Statewide I and III because the challenged DHS actions are consistent with the pertinent regulations. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of the due process claims in Statewide I, II, and III because the multiple means DHS provides to contest final bond breach determinations afford Statewide constitutionally sufficient process. View "Statewide Bonding, Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law