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Juan Pablo Gutierrez v. Holder

The Ninth Circuit upheld the denial of relief from removal for lack of good moral character The immigration judge and BIA found the applicant lacked good moral character because he had 7 or 8 DUI convictions spanning 23 years, including one that resulted in an 8 month prison sentence immediately before he was put in removal proceedings. He also continued to drive without a license even after he was put in proceedings.

The applicant was seeking registry, a form of relief for persons who have continuously resided in the U.S. since before 1972 and who have good moral character and no disqualifying acts. The court found that the immigration judge properly considered past conduct to determine the applicant's current character, even though registry does not require good moral character for a specified period of time.

Given the egregious facts of this case, the outcome was not surprising. The opinion is significant only because the Ninth Circuit found jurisdiction to review the good moral character finding at all. The Act prohibits judicial review of discretionary decisions specified to be in the authority of the Attorney General. The ultimate decision to grant registry is specified to be in the AG's discretion, but the underlying decision regarding whether good moral character exists is not. Thus, the court found it could review that determination.

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