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CA7 on Reinstatement, Jurisdiction, Standard of Review: F.J.A.P. v. Garland

February 27, 2024 (1 min read)

F.J.A.P. v. Garland

"Based on the statutory language, structure, and context of § 1252, we conclude that a reinstated order of removal is not final for purposes of judicial review until the agency has completed withholding proceedings. Only when those proceedings conclude, if the noncitizen is eligible for that review, has the agency finalized all mandatory review and “fully determined” the noncitizen’s fate. Arostegui-Maldonado, 75 F.4th at 1140 (quoting Luna-Garcia, 777 F.3d at 1185). A contrary conclusion would contravene the express intent of Congress. Our own circuit’s precedent is consistent with this interpretation, having long treated reinstated orders of removal as final once withholding proceedings are complete. We see no reason to upset that precedent. Because F.J.A.P. filed his petition within 30 days of the completion of his CAT proceedings, we have jurisdiction to hear his petition and proceed to the merits. ... Here, the Board did not just declare an absence of evidence; it actively ignored the evidence relied upon by the immigration judge. ... The Board reweighed and discounted evidence in F.J.A.P.’s case instead of properly disputing that evidence with contrary facts from the record. ... The Board did not explain how the immigration judge’s conclusion that F.J.A.P. would likely be tortured for having “the audacity to file a police report” is illogical, implausible, or lacks support. The Board did not explain why, in a country where gangs control much of the government—an assertion which was supported in the record by the State Department’s country report—an individual complaint about the gang made to the gang-controlled police would not put a target on someone’s back. ... For these reasons, we find that the Board erred by failing to apply the required clear error standard of review. Because the Board failed to apply the correct standard of review, we need not reach whether substantial evidence supported its conclusion. In light of this error, we grant F.J.A.P.’s petition and remand to the Board of Immigration Appeals for reconsideration of the immigration judge’s decision under the correct standard of review consistent with this opinion."

[Hats off to Harry S. Graver and Chuck Roth!  Listen to the oral argument here.]