5th Circuit Immigration Law News - U.S. Fifth Circuit
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5th Cir. Applies Equitable Tolling to Reopening Removal Proceedings

In what looks to be a somewhat rare display of compassion (by immigration standards, that is), the Fifth Circuit remanded an immigration case back to the lower tribunals with the admonishment not to apply certain legal principles "too harshly." Whoa.

Immigration advocacy groups have applauded the decision, calling it a recognition of the realities facing immigrants who may be "poor, uneducated, unskilled in the English language, and effectively unable to follow developments in the American legal system--much less read and digest complicated legal decisions."

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen first started making national headlines when he blocked President Obama's immigration reform plan, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, last year. But while that decision is now before the Supreme Court, Judge Hanen isn't quite ready to let go. Last month, he put himself in charge of ethics retraining for all Department of Justice attorneys practicing in any of the 26 states involved in the suit.

And now he's seeking to collect the names and addresses of more than 50,000 undocumented immigrants in those states -- something civil rights lawyers moved rapidly to stop.

President Obama's immigration reform plans won't be coming to fruition anytime soon, thanks to a recent ruling by the Fifth Circuit. The court recently upheld an injunction against the immigration changes, finding that the Obama Administration was unlikely to win on the merits.

Twenty-six states, led by Texas, had sued over the planned immigration overhaul, which would have provided work visas and halted deportations for millions of immigrants. Despite the central role of the immigration debate in the lawsuit, however, the Fifth's ruling primarily dealt with standing and administrative law.

When Noel Mata, a nonresident alien living in Texas, was convicted of assault, an immigration judge ordered his removal from the country. Mata appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, but his lawyer never filed a supporting brief, causing the BIA to dismiss his appeal. After Mata got a better attorney, he filed a motion to reopen his case, arguing that he was entitled to equitable tolling due to his previous counsel's ineffective assistance.

When the case reached the Fifth Circuit, the circuit ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear Mata's appeal. That decision created a ten to one circuit split, with the Fifth as the lone outsider. The Supreme Court solved that disagreement on Monday, ruling that the Fifth has jurisdiction over such appeals and can hear the case -- and potentially convince a court that the should not suffer for their poor choice of counsel.

President Obama's executive actions on immigration won't be implemented anytime in the near future, after the Fifth Circuit refused this afternoon to lift a lower court's injunction against the program. After Obama took action to stem the deportation of non-citizen parents and children, 26 states sued. The states, led by Texas, argued that the president exceeded the scope of his authority and won an injunction in Texas federal court.

In a bad omen for the Obama administration, the two judges on the three judge Fifth Circuit panel found that the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal. Following the lower court's adverse ruling, the Obama administration halted its immigration changes, which would defer the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

Bivens Not Available for Immigration Proceedings: 5th Cir.

A claim under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics is essentially a Supreme Court-created version of 42 USC 1983, a statute conferring a cause of action for state officials' violations of a plaintiff's civil rights.

Plaintiffs can get money damages under Bivens, as they can under 42 USC 1983, but can undocumented immigrants get damages for Fourth Amendment violations allegedly committed by border patrol agents?

Fed. Judge Refuses to Stay Injunction on DAPA

Remember back in February, when District Judge Andrew Hanen said President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents or Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) was unconstitutional? That ruling put the whole program in jeopardy, and the administration filed an emergency motion to stay the court's injunction.

On Tuesday, Hanen decided that the administration wouldn't be getting a stay, setting the stage for a showdown at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Fifth Circuit is set to hear arguments next month in the lawsuit over President Obama's executive actions on immigration, the court has announced. Each side will be given an hour for their arguments which will take place April 17th, in New Orleans.

The case, Texas v. United States, challenged whether the president had the power to prioritize, and deprioritize, immigration enforcement. Several states, lead by Texas, sued the U.S. in order to halt Obama's immigration plan, winning in district court. The arguments scheduled for mid-April will focus on whether the federal government should be prevented from enacting its immigration plans while the case is appealed.

Federal Judge Halts Obama's Deferred Action Immigration Plan

The Obama administration's deferred action plan for undocumented immigrants suffered another setback today, as a federal district judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction ordering the administration to stop enforcing executive orders related to the Deferred Action for Parents or Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

Over 123 pages, Judge Andrew Hanen agreed with 26 states that the Obama administration exceeded the scope of its statutory (but not constitutional) authority in creating DAPA.

Can't Look Past Conviction for Crimes of Moral Turpitude: 5th Cir.

When an alien is considered for deportation proceedings, it becomes painfully important to identify whether his or her record contains any crimes of moral turpitude.

This means that any criminal conviction which classifies an alien as removable is a battleground in any deportation proceeding, since moral turpitude is truly a legal term of art. But the Fifth Circuit doesn't believe this requires much wondering, since Congress has spoken clearly on the issue.

So in Silva-Trevino v. Holder, why does the court stick to only the record of conviction?