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BIA on Venue, Choice of Law: Matter of M-N-I-

May 25, 2024 (1 min read)

Matter of M-N-I-, 28 I&N Dec. 308 (BIA 2024)

Since choice of law is dependent on venue in Immigration Court proceedings, the controlling circuit law is not affected by a change in the administrative control court and will only change upon the granting of a motion to change venue. Matter of Garcia, 28 I&N Dec. 693 (BIA 2023), followed.

"In a decision dated October 24, 2023, the Immigration Judge denied the respondent’s application for deferral of removal under the regulations implementing the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). The respondent, a native and citizen of Morocco, has appealed that decision. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has not responded to the appeal. Because we agree with the respondent that additional fact-finding and analysis are needed and the Immigration Judge misapplied choice of law precedent, we will remand these proceedings for the entry of a new decision. ... The record reflects that the respondent has been detained at the Moshannon Valley Processing Center (“Moshannon”) in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, throughout these proceedings. The proceedings commenced with the filing of a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) on April 18, 2023, at the Cleveland, Ohio Immigration Court, which is within the jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. ... After the respondent’s individual hearing on October 20, 2023, the Immigration Judge applied Third Circuit law and denied deferral of removal under CAT. ... The respondent argues that the Immigration Judge erroneously applied Third Circuit law rather than Sixth Circuit law. We review this issue de novo. See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(d)(3)(ii) (2020). For the reasons discussed below, we agree with the respondent that the Immigration Judge applied the incorrect circuit’s law. ... On remand, the Immigration Judge should reevaluate the respondent’s claim under Sixth Circuit law and apply relevant Board precedent, with consideration to the respondent’s appellate arguments concerning the respondent’s gender identity and sexual orientation. See Matter of C-G-T-, 28 I&N Dec. 740, 745 (BIA 2023) (explaining that “when considering future harm, adjudicators should not expect a respondent to hide” the respondent’s sexual orientation)."

[Hats off to Jennifer C. Bade!]