9th Circuit Immigration Law News - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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Congress may view cockfighting as vile and depraved. It may be a "scourge that warrants prosecution." It is, no doubt, cruel and reprehensible. But it might not justify deportation as a crime of moral turpitude, the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday.

The ruling comes after the Department of Homeland Security began removal proceedings against Agustin Ortega-Lopez, following his misdemeanor conviction for cockfighting, an act his immigration judge likened to child abuse and for which that IJ refused to cancel his removal. While cockfighting may be condemnable, the Ninth Circuit determined, it's questionable whether Ortega-Lopez's misdemeanor conviction involved the kind of moral turpitude that would justify removing him from the country and from his three children.

Under the terms of a 1997 settlement, minors must be released from Immigration and Naturalization Service detention centers, the Ninth Circuit ruled last week. That settlement, known as the "Flores agreement," established a "nationwide policy for the detention, release, and treatment of minors" in INS custody, Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote for the three-judge panel, regardless of whether those children are alone or accompanied by adults.

Currently, hundreds of immigrant parents and children, accused of entering the U.S. illegally, are kept in custody, often for extended periods, at detention centers in New Mexico and Texas. Those minors could face release or transfer to new facilities under the Ninth Circuit's ruling, though the fate of their adult family members remains up in the air.

Arizona's identity theft laws are not facially preempted by federal immigration law, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Monday. The state's identity theft laws prohibit the use of a false identity to obtain employment. The laws had been used by the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, to raid and arrest hundreds immigrants at their workplace.

A district court had ruled that the identity theft laws were likely to be unconstitutional last year, but the Ninth circuit disagreed, noting that Arizona's laws would not conflict with federal immigration law when applied to American citizens. The ruling raises the possibility that Sheriff Arpaio's workplace raids could recommence soon.

Arizona can't deny driver's licenses to so-called "dreamers," young, undocumented immigrants with work permits and protection from deportation, but not legal status. Those dreamers (whose name comes from the failed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) are noncitizens who were brought to the United States by their parents. Under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, such dreamers are entitled to stay and work in the country, and given documentation to help them do so.

But after the DACA program was established, the Arizona government moved quickly to counteract the program, rejecting DACA documents when submitted for a driver's license. That policy of rejection violates the authority of the federal government, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday. This is the second time the policy has been defeated in the Ninth Circuit. Will it be the last?

Citizen 'Denaturalized' for Burglary After Taking Oath

Teng Jiao Zhou emigrated to America in 1985 and applied to become a naturalized citizen in 1993. On the surface, it looked he was doing everything right: he attended his naturalization interview, filled out the Form N-400 paperwork, and passed his naturalization exam.

But behind the scenes, Zhou had been convicted for robbery soon after he emigrated. His story, as portrayed in the Ninth Circuit case United States of America v. Teng Jiao Zhou, makes it clear that anyone who has questions reflecting poorly on their moral character may find themselves denaturalized citizens of the United States.

Immigrants housed in civil detention facilities will have greater access to bond hearings and potential release thanks to a Ninth Circuit ruling yesterday. Currently, thousands of immigrants are held in detention facilities for extended periods of time, awaiting rulings on their immigration status.

Those detainees will now have a greater chance of gaining release on bond while they wait for their case to be settled, thanks to the Ninth Circuit.

Did Immigration Services Violate FOIA? 9th Cir. Finds Case Moot

Attorney James Mayock brought a suit against the Federal Agency claimed that USCIS had engaged in a "pattern and practice" of violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for well over several decades. The Ninth Circuit, however, found that Mayock failed to prove standing and that the case was actually moot.

The ruling further suggests that any immigration attorney should think twice before bringing a suit alleging personal harm that is actually the harm of his clients.

The Ninth Circuit has ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) erred in not considering imputed political opinion as a ground for asylum in an Armenian man's case.

Petitioner Hayk Khudaverdyan sought asylum in the United States. He claimed that he was unable to return to Armenia because he was persecuted by the military police for whistleblowing to the press.

Khudaverdyan, a manager at a hotel restaurant, was beaten by a local police chief's bodyguards after the chief was dissatisfied with the food and service. A week later, Khudaverdyan was approached by a reporter who wanted to interview him about the beating. At a second meeting with the reporter, Khudaverdyan refused to speak about the incident because he was afraid of retaliation. Immediately after this meeting, Khudaverdyan was kidnapped, interrogated, beaten, and accused of espionage by the military police. Khudaverdyan was also threatened with life imprisonment.

SCOTUS Won't Review AZ Immigrant Harboring Case; Bail Denial Argued

Arizona: the proving ground for state immigration and abortion laws.

We've seen a lot of movement on Arizona abortion cases lately, and on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to intervene in an ongoing challenge to the state's illegal immigrant harboring statute, which means the injunction, which currently blocks enforcement of the state law, will remain in place during the litigation.

An en banc challenge to a related law, which prohibits bail for illegal immigrants, was recently argued before the court and is awaiting a decision.

Arizona's Immigrant Bail Denial Headed Back to En Banc 9th

Over the past few years, the nation has watched, with little amusement, while a circus of immigration reform efforts have played out in Arizona. Frustrated by what they call the federal government's failings in curbing illegal immigration, the state passed its own set of laws, in the legislature and via referendum, most of which have since met their demise in the courts.

Arizona's laws have been criticized as improperly motivated, and preempted by federal law, but last June, a divided panel upheld Proposition 100, which denies bond to illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes, as a proper means of ensuring that the state can enforce its laws against those prone to flee.

On Thursday, however, the court announced that the case will head back to the court for the full en banc treatment.