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Immigration Law

CA2 on Categorical Approach, Firearms: Williams v. Barr

Williams v. Barr

"Robert Junior Williams petitions for review of a 2018 Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision ordering him removed based on his 2016 Connecticut state conviction for carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 29-35(a). The BIA rejected Williams’s argument that section 29-35(a) criminalizes conduct that is not a “firearms offense” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(C), and that section 29-35(a) is therefore not a removable offense. Williams’s argument turns on a comparison of the “antique firearms” transportation exception of section 29-35(a) and the general exception for 2 “antique firearms” found in the definition of an INA “firearms offense.” We conclude that the BIA erred in ruling that the exceptions are of equivalent reach and that the state statute is a categorical match to the federal statute. Furthermore, because our conclusion is determined by the text of the relevant statutes, the “realistic probability” test does not apply here, contrary to the BIA’s alternative holding. See Hylton v. Sessions, 897 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir. 2018). The petition for review is GRANTED. The order of removal is VACATED, and the cause is REMANDED to the BIA with directions to terminate Williams’s removal proceedings."

[Hats off to Elyssa Williams!]