The Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") recent issued a precedential decision last month that may cause havoc for immigration court cases concerning domestic violence. The ruling in Matter of H. Estrada, 26 I & N Dec. 749 (BIA 2016), essentially revolves around what constitutes a crime of domestic violence. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a non-US citizen is deportable for a conviction of a crime of domestic violence if the crime is a "crime of violence" as defined at 18 USC 16 and is committed against a victim with a protected domestic relationship. Under 237(a)(2)(E)(i), this has been taken to cover offenders who are current or former spouses of the victim; individuals who the victim shares a child in common; individuals who cohabitate or have cohabitated with the victim as spouses; or by those similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction where the crime occurred.
Although it may not have generated much attention in the media, a very important precedential decision was issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals last month. Lawyers who practice deportation and removal defense certainly know about, or certainly, should. The decision is Matter of ORDAZ, 26 I & N Dec. 637 (BIA 2015) and it is especially relevant in these times given the seemingly endless delay of individuals having their day in immigration court. The decision concerns the "stop-time" rule and whether service of a Notice To Appear that does not result in commencement of removal proceedings effectively triggers the stop-time rule for purposes of cancellation of removal.
President Obama's Executive Order on Immigration not only provided a reprieve to millions of undocumented aliens in the US, but also signaled a change in enforcement priorities. Under a new November 2014 memorandum entitled Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security has been ordered to re-prioritize whom it should be actively seeking to remove. This policy wide guidance applies to all immigration arms of DHS including US Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE), US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It also, importantly, rescinds and replaces previous memoranda including the famous 2011 Morton Memos that paved the way for Prosecutorial Discretion Requests. People who applying for DAPA relief should also be aware of this memo, as deferred action will not be extended to those who are considered enforcement priorities.