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Coyomani-Cielo v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 14, 2014

CARLOS COYOMANI-CIELO, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent

Argued: May 22, 2014.

Petition for Review of a Final Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

For Carlos Coyomani-Cielo, Petitioner: Andrew Michael Larson, Attorney, Moline, IL.

For ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent: OIL, Attorney, Ann M. Welhaf, Attorney, Department of Justice, Civil Division, Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC.

Before POSNER, FLAUM, and MANION, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 909

Flaum, Circuit Judge.

Carlos Coyomani entered the United States without inspection in 1997 and concedes that he is removable.[1] The question here is whether he is eligible for cancellation of removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) found him ineligible for that relief. Coyomani now petitions for review, arguing that the Board misinterpreted the relevant provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), § 240A(b)(1)(C). We find that statutory provision ambiguous but conclude that the Board's interpretation is reasonable and entitled to deference under Chevron . We therefore deny Coyomani's petition.

I. Background

Before we describe Coyomani's path through the immigration courts, we will briefly summarize the relevant statutory scheme and a few background concepts. " Federal immigration law governs both the exclusion of aliens from admission to this country and the deportation of aliens previously admitted." Judulang v. Holder, 132 S.Ct. 476, 479, 181 L.Ed.2d 449 (2011). A " removable" individual is one whom the immigration authorities may lawfully expel from the United States; both " deportable" and " inadmissible" individuals are " removable." INA § 240(e)(2); 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(a)(2); Zamora-Mallari v. Mukasey, 514 F.3d 679, 687 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008). A " deportable" individual is a non-citizen who (in many

Page 910

cases) was lawfully admitted into the United States, but who later became removable for any of a number of reasons specified in INA § 237(a) (for instance, by committing a specified offense). See generally Austin T. Fragomen, Jr. & Steven C. Bell, Immigration Fundamentals 1-28 to -30, 7-11 (4th ed. 2013). An " inadmissible" individual is a non-citizen who (in many cases) was not formally admitted into the country, and who is removable for any of several reasons specified in INA § 212(a) (for example, by committing a crime involving moral turpitude). See id. See generally Xi v. INS, 298 F.3d 832, 838 (9th Cir. 2002) (discussing these terms and certain of their differences). However, a removable individual (whether inadmissible or deportable) is sometimes eligible to seek " cancellation of removal," a form of discretionary relief that the Attorney General may grant. See INA § 240A; 8 U.S.C. § 1229b. To be eligible for cancellation of removal, a nonpermanent resident alien like Coyomani must satisfy four conditions. See INA § 240A(b)(1); 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1).

Only one of those conditions is relevant in this case: the requirement that Coyomani " has not been convicted of an offense under [INA] section 212(a)(2), 237(a)(2), or 237(a)(3)." [2] INA § 240A(b)(1)(C); 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1)(C). Section 237(a)(3)--relating to the fraudulent obtainment or misuse of a visa or other entry document--is not relevant in this case, but the other two cross-referenced sections are. As relevant here, INA § 212(a)(2) states that an alien is inadmissible if he commits a crime involving moral turpitude (a " CIMT," for short) and the maximum sentence that can be imposed exceeds one year; and § 237(a)(2) provides that an alien is deportable if he commits any of a number of crimes, including " an aggravated felony at any time after admission."

We now turn to the specifics of Coyomani's case. Coyomani, a native and citizen of Mexico, entered the United States without inspection in 1997. In 2000, he was convicted in Illinois state court of domestic battery and of resisting a peace officer. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security placed Coyomani in removal proceedings, charging him with inadmissibility as an alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled, see INA § 212(a)(6)(A)(i); 8 U.S.C. § ...


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