CA9 on Motions to Reopen: Chandra v. Holder

"We join our sister circuits and hold that a petitioner’s untimely motion to reopen may qualify under the changed conditions exception in 8 C.F.R. § 1003(c)(3)(ii), even if the changed country conditions are made relevant by a change in the petitioner’s personal circumstances. ... [T]he BIA committed legal error insofar as it determined that Chandra’s post-removal conversion to Christianity rendered him ineligible to file an untimely motion under the changed conditions exception. The Government urges that we take heed of the “policy interest . . . in preventing applicants from orchestrating changes that serve their self-interest.”  See Larngar v. Holder, 562 F.3d 71, 77–78 (1st Cir. 2009).  We realize that, as with any form of relief available to immigrants and refugees seeking to make their life in this country, there is some risk of abuse.  Our decision today serves another worthy policy interest.  Indeed, it is one of our oldest and most foundational policy interests—allowing individuals to freely choose and exercise their own religion.  The timing of one’s religious choice is not determinative of one’s rights." - Chandra v. Holder, May 12, 2014.  [Hats off to Gihan L. Thomas!]