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Matter of Alfredo Diaz-Garcia

In this case, the government unlawfully removed the respondent before the removal order was administratively final, i.e., while the case was on direct appeal to the Board. The regulations provide that a removal order shall not be executed during the period for filing an appeal to the Board (unless appeal is waived) or while the appeal is pending. The regulations also provide that the departure of a respondent from the U.S. while a direct appeal is pending constitutes a withdrawal of the appeal. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.4. DHS argued that even its removal of the respondent "in error" is a departure that strips the Board of jurisdiction over the appeal. The Board rejected that argument and found, "Fundamental fairness dictates that an unlawful act by the DHS should not serve to deprive us of jurisdiction to review an alien’s appeal."

On the merits of the appeal, the Board held that a conviction for being an "accomplice" to an aggravated felony offense makes an alien removable for an aggravated felony if the conviction is for aiding and abetting the principal offender. The respondent in this case was convicted under an Arkansas statute that defined accomplice more broadly to include "a person who (1) solicits another to commit an offense, (2) aids another in the commission of the offense, or (3) fails to prevent the commission of the offense, so the Board held it was not categorically an aggravated felony. The reviewable record of conviction, however, made it clear the respondent assisted the principal at the scene of the crime. The conviction thus satisfied the modified categorical analysis.