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Immigration Law

Natz. Victory Slams Matter of Zhang: Melara v. Mayorkas

Melara v. Mayorkas

"Matter of Zhang, 27 I&N Dec. 569 (BIA 2019) is not entitled to deference by this Court because it is a dramatic break with past agency interpretation, is in conflict with the Department of State’s current interpretation of the false claim to citizenship ground of inadmissibility, and is a break from Congress’s clearly expressed intent. An agency’s interpretation of an unambiguous statute receives no deference if the interpretation is not in line with Congress’s clearly expressed intent. See, e.g., Valenzuela Gallardo v. Lynch, 818 F.3d 808, 815 (9th Cir. 2016).  Matter of Zhang takes a dramatic and unique approach to the knowledge element out of the term “false claim to U.S. citizenship.” See, e.g., Richmond v. Holder, 714 F.3d 725, 729 (2d Cir. 2013) (assuming without deciding that false claim inadmissibility provision has knowledge element); Muratoski v. Holder, 622 F.3d 824, 828 (7th Cir. 2010) (agency determined that applicant lacked good moral character because he “knew or should have known” that he was not a United States citizen at the time he made that claim); Valdez-Munoz v. Holder, 623 F.3d 1304, 1308 (9th Cir. 2010) (reasonable factfinder would not be compelled to disagree with agency’s determination that applicant was inadmissible because he “intended to and did make a false claim of United States citizenship”). ... The Court finds that Petitioner Antonio Fernando Melara has met his burden of proving each element of naturalization by preponderance of the evidence. Judgment is GRANTED for Petitioner."

[Hats way off to Sabrina Damast and Patricia M. Corrales!]