Immigration Law

Unpub. BIA Pardon Victory in Alabama, Louisiana

Hats off to my associate, Samantha Hechtman, who writes:

"Respondent is a native and citizen of Antigua Barbuda. He entered the United States as a lawful permanent resident on January 30, 1988. Respondent was detained by ICE on November 14, 2016 after a DUI arrest triggered an ICE hold. On November 29, 2016, a Notice to Appear was issued alleging that Respondent was removable as an aggravated felon under INA §237(a)(2)(A)(iii), for having committed two crimes involving moral turpitude under INA §237(a)(2)(A(ii), and for violation of a law relating to a controlled substance under INA §237(a)(2)(B)(i). Prior counsel represented him in his initial proceedings before the Oakdale IC. Through counsel he applied for relief in the form of Cancellation of Removal for Permanent Residents under §240A(a) of the Act. On February 28, 2017. the IJ found Respondent statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal for having committed aggravated felonies and pretermitted Respondent’s request for relief. Respondent hired us and we timely appealed the IJ’s decision to the BIA on March 28, 2017. The BIA dismissed his appeal on July 19, 2017.
Respondent applied to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (Board of Pardons) for a full pardon of all of his convictions. On November 14, 2017, the Board of Pardons granted Respondent a full pardon of all of his convictions and restored his civil and political rights. Through counsel, Respondent filed a sua sponte motion to reopen with the BIA based upon the full and unconditional pardon. The BIA granted the motion on January 29, 2018 and remanded the case to the Immigration Court for further proceedings.
Immigration court proceedings were conducted at the La Salle IC for detained cases in Jena, LA. Respondent renewed his application for cancellation of removal for permanent residents because his convictions for aggravated felonies were not longer at issue thanks to the pardon. DHS tried to pretermit relief again by arguing that because the statutory language for cancellation says “has ever been convicted of” the pardon doesn’t really count. We replied to the motion to pretermit and the IJ sided with us and allowed the application to go forward. The IJ granted relief on July 3, 2018. DHS appealed the decision using the same arguments they had previously presented in their motion to pretermit. The appealed on no other grounds. The BIA dismissed the appeal and affirmed the IJs original decision on December 13, 2018. Client was finally released from DHS custody after over two years on January 2, 2019."