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Law School Case Brief

Monteon-Camargo v. Barr - 918 F.3d 423


In the Diaz-Lizarraga decision, the Board of Immigration Appeals revised its interpretation of which theft crimes constitute crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT), holding that a taking or exercise of control over another's property without consent is a CIMT if it involves an intent to deprive the owner of his property either permanently or under circumstances where the owner's property rights are substantially eroded. 


Petitioner Gustavo Monteon-Camargo first entered the United States in 1998 on a non-immigrant visa but was arrested and administratively returned to Mexico in 2004. He reentered on an unknown date and was arrested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2010. During removal proceedings, Monteon-Camargo submitted an "Application for Cancellation of Removal and Adjustment of Status for Certain Non-permanent Residents." DHS submitted a judgment showing that in 2007, Monteon-Camargo had pleaded guilty of attempted theft. Deciding that that offense was a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) and that Monteon-Camargo had failed to establish that his conviction was not a CIMT, the immigration judge (IJ) found Monteon-Camargo removable as charged. On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals determined that Monteon-Camargo was ineligible for cancellation of removal because his 2007 conviction of attempted theft from a person under Texas law counted as a CIMT. Monteon-Camargo filed a petition for review.


Was the crime of attempted theft considered a crime involving moral turpitude?




The court of appeals granted the petition for review, reversed the BIA's final order of removal and remanded the matter. The court held that the BIA erred in applying a recent and new definition of CIMT to Monteon-Camargo's conviction of attempted theft. The Diaz-Lizarraga decision, and its changed definition of CIMT, could not be applied retroactively since retroactively applying the Diaz-Lizarraga decision could compromise the familiar due process considerations of fair notice, reasonable reliance, and settled expectations. While there were multiple disadvantages to applying it retroactively, the government failed to identify a single disadvantage of applying Diaz-Lizarraga only prospectively, and the definition of CIMTs announced in Diaz-Lizarraga could be applied only to crimes committed after that decision issued.

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