Anaya testified at his withholding of removal hearing as to the circumstances surrounding his prior conviction, including the fact that while he was driving drunk, his vehicle struck the wall of a house that collapsed onto and injured an elderly woman. The IJ held that because Anaya was convicted of a particularly serious crime, he was not entitled to withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture. Anaya appealed to the Bureau of Immigration Appeals, which affirmed the IJ decision. Anaya then filed this petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The Court first addressed Anaya’s allegation that the IJ and the BIA erred in finding him removable in the first place. Utilizing the categorical approach, the Court concluded that the California state law firearm offense to which Anaya pled guilty was equivalent to the generic federal offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm. However, noting that the California offense potentially involved a broader range of conduct than its federal equivalent, the Court considered the modified categorical approach. In its analysis, the Court held that Anaya’s record of conviction established that the offense for which he was convicted included all of the elements enumerated in the generic federal offense; moreover, the Court pointed out that the reliance of the IJ and BIA on the abstract of judgment was appropriate. This portion of Anaya's appeal was rejected.
Next, the Court examined Anaya’s claim that the BIA erred as a matter of law in categorizing his state law offense as a particularly serious crime based on his testimony given at the withholding of removal hearing. The Court initially stated that since the Immigration and Nationality Act was silent on the definition of "particularly serious crime", the BIA was entitled to deference in its interpretation of the statute. Plus, the Court concluded, the BIA could look at any reliable information in determining whether an offense was a particularly serious crime, which would necessarily encompass Anaya’s testimony at the hearing. As such, the BIA’s interpretation of the statute applied to Anaya’s testimony was reasonable.
Finally, the Court reviewed whether the BIA used the correct legal standard in terms of properly considering the facts and circumstances regarding Anaya’s underlying felony conviction. As the IJ’s decision sufficiently analyzed the circumstances of Anaya’s conviction, and specifically referred to its dangerousness, the Court ruled that the IJ and BIA used the correct legal standard in determining that Anaya’s offense constituted a particularly serious crime.
Judge(s): Marsha S. Berzon and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges, and James K. Singleton, Senior District Judge
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Related Categories: Immigration
|Amicus Lawyer(s)||Amicus Law Firm(s)|
|Michael K. Mehr||Law Office of Michael K. Mehr|
|Petitioner Lawyer(s)||Petitioner Law Firm(s)|
|Gary Finn||Law Offices of Gary Finn|
|Respondent Lawyer(s)||Respondent Law Firm(s)|
|Ronald E. LeFevre||Office of the District Counsel, Dept. of Homeland Security|
|Jennifer J. Keeney||US Dept. of Justice, Civil Division/Office of Immigration Litigation|
|Melissa Neiman-Kelting||US Dept. of Justice, Civil Division/Office of Immigration Litigation|