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Immigration Law

CA9 on Stop-Time Rule: Nguyen v. Sessions

Nguyen v. Sessions - "Vu Minh Nguyen, a citizen of Vietnam, immigrated to the United States as a lawful permanent resident in the year 2000, when he was eighteen years old. Fifteen years later, he was placed in removal proceedings and charged with removability due to three misdemeanor convictions. Nguyen, with the assistance of pro bono counsel, applied for cancellation of removal. This form of relief is a discretionary benefit that requires an immigration judge (“IJ”) to balance the applicant’s “adverse factors . . . with the social and humane considerations presented on his (or her) behalf to determine whether the granting of relief appears in the best interest of” the United States. Ridore v. Holder, 696 F.3d 907, 920 (9th Cir. 2012) (internal alterations omitted). The question before us is whether Nguyen is even eligible to seek cancellation of removal. The government contends that Nguyen is barred from cancellation consideration because he failed to meet one of the three statutory prerequisites: seven years of continuous residence, which cannot be interrupted by the “commi[ssion] [of] an offense . . . that renders the alien inadmissible to the United States under” 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2) or removable under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1227(a)(2) or (a)(4). 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(d)(1). During his merits hearing, Nguyen admitted on cross-examination that he used cocaine in 2005. The government argued below that Nguyen’s commission of a drug offense rendered him inadmissible, therefore stopping his accrual of continuous residence at five years. The IJ agreed and pretermitted Nguyen’s cancellation application. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed in an unpublished decision. We grant Nguyen’s petition for relief and remand for consideration of his cancellation of removal application on the merits. We hold that Nguyen was not “rendered inadmissible” by his drug offense because he is a lawful permanent resident not seeking admission."

[Hats off to Tim Henry Warden-Hertz (argued) and Matt Adams, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project!]