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The Board held that a conviction under section 21-3843(a)(1) of the Kansas Statutes Annotated for telephoning a person protected by the order constitutes a deportable offense under section 237(a)(2)(E)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Section 237(a)(2)(E)(ii) provides that an alien admitted to the U.S. who violates "the portion of a protection order that involves protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person or persons for whom the protection order was issued is deportable."

The Board concluded that contacting the subject of a protection order by telephone made the respondent deportable even if the call did not involve threats or repeated harassment. It reasoned that the no-contact portion of a protection order (as opposed to portions concerning attending counseling or paying costs) involved protection from credible threats, repeated harassment, or bodily injury because a court would only issue it if there had been past abuse or threats and the no-contact order protects the victim from being victimized again.

In reaching that conclusion, the Board did not discuss the potential significance of the fact that the case involved a temporary protection order, which typically is issued before the court determines if credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury actually had occurred.  Indeed, the telephone call in this case occurred twenty days before the hearing on the restraining order.  The temporary restraining order thus apparently was based only on the woman's unproven allegations.

The Board's construction gives no effect to the statutory language that seems to require a determination that the threats, repeated harassment, or bodily injury had occurred and that any threats were credible.  A better construction would require, at least in the case of unproven ex parte temporary restraining orders, that the immigration judge actually find that the violation did involve such conduct.

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The Ninth Circuit remanded this case to the BIA to determine whether a conviction for failure to register as a sex offender in violation of California Penal Code section 290(g)(1) is a crime of moral turpitude.  The BIA in this case had held that it categorically was a CMT pursuant to its decision in Matter of Tobar-Lobo, 24 I&N Dec. 143 (BIA 2007).

After its decision, however, the Ninth Circuit issued a contrary decision regarding the Nevada sex offender statute, finding that it was the underlying sex offense and not the failure to register that constituted a CMT.  See Plasencia-Ayala v. Mukasey, 516 F.3d 738 (9th Cir.2008).

The Attorney General also issued a decision casting doubt on Tobar-Lobo. The AG's decision in Silva-Trevino held that an offense must have some level of scienter (criminal intent) to qualify as a CMT.  California penalizes failure to register even if it is due to mere forgetfulness, which is in tension with the requirement that a CMT have an element of intent (at least of recklessness, rather than mere negligence).

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The Board held that immigration judges may NOT go beyond the record of conviction to determine whether a crime involves moral turpitude if the record of conviction conclusively establishes it did not.  This is an often overlooked corollary of the Attorney General's decision in Silva-Trevino.  (See my post at

In Ahortalejo-Guzman, the respondent was convicted of simple assault, and the criminal court specifically noted that the conviction did not involve family violence.  Simple assault is not a crime of moral turpitude.  The immigration judge, however, went beyond the conviction documents to consider police reports and testimony.  The police reports and testimony indicated the respondent committed a crime of domestic violence.  The IJ found that the domestic violence involved moral turpitude and denied the respondent relief from removal based on that.

The Board held the IJ erred.  It cited Silva-Trevino, which stated that an IJ could consider evidence outside the record of conviction only after determining that the record of conviction documents were ambiguous as to whether the offense involved moral turpitude. It noted that this sequential, hierarchical approach "serves the important function of recognizing and preserving the results of a plea bargain, where the parties, with the consent of a trial judge, agree to allow the defendant to plead to a less serious crime."

This case is a bit unusual, however, since the criminal court specifically found that the offense did not involve family violence.  It remains to be seen whether something this explicit is necessary, although it certainly should be considered a best practice in making a plea now.

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The court held that a felony violation of Revised Code of Washington section 9A.44.089 (sexual contact with a 14 or 15 year-old by a person at least 48 months older) constitutes a crime of child abuse within the meaning of the ground of deportability at INA 237(a)(2)(E)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(E)(i).

The opinion telegraphed its outcome by gratuitously describing the offense as "child molestation." The elements of the offense described by the court, however, appear to permit conviction for consensual sexual activity between a 15 year-old and a 19 year-old.  Consensual sex with a 15 year-old may be unlawful, but it only became so in the U.S. over the last century.  It is hardly equivalent to the types of crimes one normally thinks of upon hearing the term "child molestation."

Moreover, little analysis accompanies the opinion.  The primary question is whether the offense amounts to "abuse."  The opinion answers the question simply by stating the conclusion: "Section 9A.44.089 makes illegal the act of touching the sexual or other intimate parts of the victim when the victim is either 14 or 15 years old and the perpetrator is at least forty eight months older. This conduct, at a minimum, constitutes maltreatment of a child and impairs the child’s mental wellbeing."  This is hardly obvious in the case of consensual sexual activity between a 15 year-old and a 19 year-old.

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In this opinion, the Ninth Circuit provided more details about the bond hearing required under Casas-Castrillon v. Department of Homeland Security, 535 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2008).  Casas-Castrillon provided for a bond hearing before an immigration judge for detained aliens while they petition for review of an administratively final order of removal.

Singh held DHS has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community.  Casas-Castrillon had held DHS had the burden of justifying continued detention, but did not state the showing required.  Clear and convincing is a heightened standard appropriate to the interests at stake when a person is detained in civil proceedings for several years.

Singh also held that the agency must provide contemporaneous record of the bond proceedings, such as a audio recording.  Immigration judges typically do not record bond proceedings and instead just prepare a memorandum if the alien chooses to appeal.  The current practice severely impedes judicial review of errors or due process violations.  The court's decision recognizes this, while not imposing the additional burden of requiring a transcription of the proceedings.

Singh also noted that the mere existence of a criminal record is not enough to deny bond.  Instead, the alien must constitute a present danger to the community.  So, the adjudicator must consider the extensiveness of criminal activity, the recency of such activity, and the seriousness of the offenses.

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In Diouf II, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that prolonged detention under 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6) raises serious constitutional concerns, which require additional procedural safeguards beyond those provided under the regulations. Section 1231(a)(6) authorizes detention of an alien subject to a removal order if the government is not able to physically remove the alien within the initial 90 days after the order becomes final.

Under the regulations, ICE officers periodically determine whether aliens subject to final removal orders should remain in detention or be released on bond or other conditions. Detention under this regime may continue for years.  ICE follows these procedures because the Supreme Court held in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001) that the government could not indefinitely detain aliens subject to final removal orders, at least where removal is not reasonably foreseeable.

Diouf II, however, holds that the procedures adopted by ICE are not sufficient where the detention significantly exceeds six months.  It holds that an alien subject to final removal order must receive a bond hearing before a neutral immigration judge where removal is not imminent and the alien has been detained for six months. Further, it holds that the alien should receive bond unless ICE establishes to the satisfaction of the immigration judge that the alien is a flight risk or poses a danger to the community.

These are the same safeguards that the Ninth Circuit found necessary for aliens subject to prolonged detention under 8 U.S.C. 1226(a) (detention during direct challenge to a removal order).  See Casas-Castrillon v. Department of Homeland Security, 535 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2008).

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The Board of Immigration Appeals held that the crime of moral turpitude ground of deportability, INA 237(a)(2)(A), encompasses a conviction for attempt if the attempt is to commit a crime that involves moral turpitude.  In this case, the respondent had a conviction for attempted grand theft.  The Board found that this conviction, along with another conviction for grand theft, made him deportable for having two convictions for crimes of moral turpitude after admission.

The Board rejected the respondent's argument that conviction for attempt to commit a crime of moral turpitude should not trigger deportability because INA 237(a)(2)(A) does not explicitly include attempt, while the ground of inadmissibility at INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) does include the inchoate offenses of attempt and conspiracy.

The Board noted a Ninth Circuit decision, Barragan-Lopez v. Mukasey, 508 F.3d 899, 903 (9th Cir. 2007), which concluded that this meant the deportation ground was broader (rather than narrower) than the inadmissibility ground.  The Ninth Circuit reasoned the listing of only two inchoate offenses in the inadmissibility ground narrowed the ground to exclude other inchoate offenses such as solicitation or facilitation, while the lack of any references to inchoate offenses in the deportability ground meant it was expansive enough to cover all inchoate crimes.

The Board cited, but did not quite adopt the Ninth Circuit's analysis (given it may have wished to leave room to find that the inadmissibility ground covers inchoate offenses other than attempt and conspiracy).  It offered its own justification for the listing of attempt and conspiracy in the inadmissibility ground but not the deportability ground: Congress may have been just trying to be clear that the former covered attempt and conspiracy without implying anything about the coverage of the latter, particularly since the Congress drafted them at different times.  This belt-and-suspenders-argument overlooks the fact that Congress presumably knows how it drafted other parts of the Act and strives for consistency in its language.

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The Board in Guevara-Alfaro returned to the same issues decided by former Attorney General Mukasey in Matter of Silva-Trevino, 24 I&N Dec. 687 (AG 2008).

It first held that any intentional sexual contact between an adult and a child of less than 16 years of age involves moral turpitude if the adult knew or should have known the child was under 16. Thus, it held that a conviction under California Penal Code 261.5(d) (sexual intercourse between 21+ adult and minor under 16) may involve moral turpitude.

It acknowledged, however, that 261.5(d) did not categorically involve moral turpitude because the offense does not require that the perpetrator knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was less than 16 years of age.

In reaching this conclusion, the Board cited Brand-X to assert that the Ninth Circuit had to defer to this interpretation despite its decision in Quintero-Salazar v. Keisler, 506 F.3d 688 (9th Cir. 2007).  It noted the Ninth Circuit ruled in Marmolejo-Campos v. Holder, 558 F.3d 903 (9th Cir.2009) (en banc) that the definition of a  crime of moral turpitude is quintessentially ambiguous, so the the court must defer to the Board's interpretation.

Quintero-Salazar had held that 261.5(d) would not involve moral turpitude if, for example, the relationship was between a high school junior of 15 years and 11 months and a college student of 21 years.  It noted that the conduct involved, consensual sex, would be legal if the two were married.  Marriages between 21 year-olds and 15 year-olds may not be as common as they once were in the U.S., but are legally possible in some states with parental consent.

Guevara Alfaro disagreed, holding that intentional sexual contact between a 15 year-old and a 21 year-old would involve moral turpitude, if the 21 year-old knew or reasonably should have known the victims age.  It did not explain how this could be a crime of moral turpitude if the two were legally married.

The Board next held it should use the process enunciated by Silva-Trevino to determine whether the offense actually involved moral turpitude (i.e., whether the perpetrator knew or reasonably should have known the victims age).  It held that since 261.5(d) did not categorically involve moral turpitude, it had to examine the record of conviction documents and, if the record of conviction is inconclusive, it had to review other probative evidence to determine if the offense involved moral turpitude.  This would include, in this case, the testimony of the respondent.

The important caveat that both Silva-Trevino and Guevara Alfaro included, but which immigration judges may overlook, is that they may proceed to the third step of examining other probative evidence only if the record of conviction documents are "inconclusive."  This should mean that an IJ may not look at other evidence if the record of conviction documents clearly show that the offense did not involve moral turpitude.  Thus, where state law permits such a conviction, a guilty plea that stipulates the defendant "did not know and had no reasonable basis for knowing the victim was under 16" should prevent inquiry by the IJ beyond the record of conviction.  The record of conviction in such a case would be conclusive.  Whether the Board actually adheres to this aspect of Silva-Trevino, however, remains to be seen.

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The Board held that, if the seven year period of continuous residence stops for 240A(a) cancellation of removal, it does not restart again based merely on a departure from and reentry to the U.S.  A key fact in this case, however, is that the conviction that stopped Nelson's period of continuous residence also made him inadmissible at the time of his reentry to the U.S.  There also was no claim that he obtained a waiver of that inadmissibility.  The Board reserved deciding whether the result would have been the same if he had been readmitted with a waiver.  The Board also attached some significance to the fact that the conviction was charged as a basis for removability (in addition to other grounds of removability), although it did not explain the exact relevance of this fact.

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For removability under 237(a)(2)(A)(i), a crime of moral turpitude must occur within 5 years after "the date of admission."  In Alyazji, the Board (re)defined "the date of admission," abrogating Matter of Shanu in part.
The date of admission for this purpose is now the date of the admission by virtue which the person was present in the United States at the time of committing the crime of moral turpitude.  A few different scenarios illustrate the application:
  • A person who entered the U.S. without inspection would never be subject to this ground of deportability because he has not been admitted.
  • For a person who last entered the U.S. without inspection and then adjusts to permanent resident status (perhaps under 245(i)), the date of admission is the date of adjustment.  This is the case even if the person had a prior inspection and admission (perhaps on a tourist visa as a child), but then departed.
  • For a person who last entered the U.S. on a visa and then overstays or violates the terms of the admission before adjusting status to lawful permanent residence, the date of arrival on the visa is still the date of admission.
  • After obtaining lawful permanent resident status, a noncitizen does not obtain a new date of admission unless one of the exceptions at INA 101(a)(13)(C) applies (seeking return to the U.S. after abandonment of residence, absence of more than 180 days, removal, illegal activity abroad, commission of a crime identified in INA 212(a)(2) absent a waiver, etc.).

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