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Immigration Law

CA10 Corrects Massive BIA Failure: Villegas-Castro v. Garland

Villegas-Castro v. Garland

"We conclude that the Board erred in three ways. First, the Board erred in overturning the grant of asylum. The Board decided that Mr. Villegas-Castro had not filed a new application. But if he hadn’t filed a new asylum application, he wouldn’t need to show a material change in circumstances. And with the remand, the immigration judge enjoyed discretion to reconsider the availability of asylum. Second, the Board erred in rejecting the immigration judge’s credibility findings without applying the clear-error standard. The immigration judge concluded that Mr. Villegas-Castro’s conviction had not involved a particularly serious crime. For this conclusion, the immigration judge considered the underlying facts and found Mr. Villegas-Castro’s account credible. The Board disagreed with the immigration judge’s credibility findings but didn’t apply the clear-error standard. By failing to apply that standard, the Board erred. Third, the Board erred in sua sponte deciding that Mr. Villegas-Castro was ineligible for (1) withholding of removal or (2) deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. The Board reasoned that the immigration judge had already denied withholding of removal under federal law and the Convention. But the Board’s general remand didn’t prevent fresh consideration of Mr. Villegas-Castro’s earlier applications. So the Board erred in sua sponte rejecting the applications for withholding of removal and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. We thus grant the petition for judicial review, remanding for the Board to reconsider Mr. Villegas-Castro’s application for asylum, to apply the clear-error standard to the immigration judge’s credibility findings, and to reconsider the applications for withholding of removal and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture."

[Hats off to Harry Larson, formerly of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, Chicago, Illinois (Andrew H. Schapiro, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, Chicago, Illinois, and Keren Zwick and Tania Linares Garcia, National Immigrant Justice Center, Chicago, Illinois, with him on the briefs), on behalf of the Petitioner, and Simon A. Steel, DENTONS US LLP, Washington, D.C., and Grace M. Dickson, DENTONS US LLP, Dallas, Texas, filed a brief for Amici Curiae, on behalf of Petitioner!]