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Immigration Law

CA3 on Ineffective Assistance: Calderon-Rosas v. Atty. Gen.

Calderon-Rosas v. Atty. Gen.

"Immigration law is a field in which fair, accurate factfinding is of critical importance. The need in immigration proceedings for effective attorneys who can competently marshal the evidence on each side is therefore of commensurate importance. Yet aliens—often poor, often non-English speaking—are disproportionately saddled with low-quality counsel, and the consequences can be drastic. This is a case in point. Petitioner Sergio Calderon-Rosas paid a now-disbarred attorney to represent him in removal proceedings, and Calderon-Rosas was ordered deported after that attorney failed to present key evidence supporting his application for cancellation of removal. Calderon-Rosas sought a new hearing, arguing that he was deprived of due process by, among other things, his attorney’s ineffective assistance, but the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied his claims. We must decide whether we have jurisdiction to review due process claims where a petitioner, like Calderon-Rosas, seeks only discretionary relief—and if so, whether Calderon-Rosas’s claims have merit. Because we conclude that we have jurisdiction and Calderon-Rosas plainly presents a meritorious ineffective-assistance claim, we will vacate the Board’s decision and remand."

[Hats off to Petra D. Fist!]