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CA4 on Particularly Serious Crime: Annor v. Garland

March 16, 2024 (2 min read)

Annor v. Garland

"David Annor, a citizen of Ghana and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, used his business to funnel the proceeds of a “romance fraud scheme” to militiamen in Ghana. After Annor pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) placed him in removal proceedings, where he applied for withholding of removal and deferral under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). An Immigration Judge (“IJ”) denied relief, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed, holding that Annor’s money laundering conspiracy conviction constituted a “particularly serious crime” barring withholding of removal. See 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(B)(ii). But in so holding, the BIA misapplied its own precedent, both by relying on the elements of the wrong statute and by failing to assess whether the nature of Annor’s offense indicates that he presents a danger to the community. Accordingly, we vacate the BIA’s decision and remand for further proceedings. ... [B]oth the IJ and the BIA failed to properly analyze the elements of a conspiracy to commit money laundering. ... [B]oth the BIA and the IJ failed to correctly apply N-A-M-. ... [T]he BIA did not improperly consider the facts of the case at the first step of the N-A-M- pipeline — instead, it analyzed the elements of the wrong statute altogether. ... [W]e vacate the BIA’s decision and remand so that the agency may conduct this analysis in the first instance. ... Because the BIA found that Annor had been convicted of a particularly serious crime without considering the “essential key” to that analysis, B-Z-R-, 28 I. & N. Dec. at 563–64, we hold that it failed to apply the correct legal standard, and “we remand this case so that it may do so in the first instance.” ... Although the BIA possesses wide latitude to make “particularly serious crime” determinations under 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(B)(ii), it must do so in accordance with its own precedent. Because the BIA analyzed the wrong statute at the first step of its analysis, and omitted the most important factor at the second, we vacate the BIA’s decision and remand to the BIA for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. PETITION FOR REVIEW GRANTED; VACATED AND REMANDED." [Emphasis added.]

[Hats way off to Ben Winograd, Adam Crandell and amici Peter Cameron Alfredson, Samantha Hsieh, Keith Armstrong and Vanessa Rivas!  Ben's oral argument is hereNOTE: Something is seriously wrong at DOJ when a seasoned IJ and BIA member make these kinds of mistakes, and when OIL attorneys defend such errors in court.  Crimmigration should not be so hard that it takes a team of litigation superstars to achieve a just result!]