United States v. Willis Reyes-Bonilla

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 02-06-2012
  • Case #: No. 10-50361
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior Circuit Judge Godwin for the Court; Circuit Judge McLane, and District Judge Cogan
  • Full Text Opinion

An alien may challenge removal under the due process clause by when (1) they have exhausted all administrative remedies; (2) they have been deprived of the opportunity for judicial review; and (3) the proceeding was fundamentally unfair. To show fundamental unfairness, the alien must prove that his due process rights were violated, and that he would have had a plausible claim for relief had he not been prejudiced.

The U.S. discovered Willis Reyes-Bonilla (Reyes) was in the U.S. illegally and initiated deportation proceedings against him. Reyes signed a waiver admitting to the immigration violation allegations and waived all his statutory rights. He was removed in 2001 and subsequently reentered the U.S. in 2008, and was charged with violating the 2001 removal order. Reyes challenged the indictment on the basis that the 2001 removal order was invalid because he was never advised his rights in a language he understood, prejudicing him because he was unable to seek relief under the Convention Against Torture. The district court denied his motion and Reyes appealed to the Ninth Circuit arguing the removal order violated his due process rights. To succeed in a due process challenge, an alien must prove that he (1) exhausted all administrative remedies, (2) the deportation proceeding deprived him of opportunity for judicial review, (3) and the proceeding was fundamentally unfair. The Ninth Circuit found Reyes was exempted from proving he exhausted all administrative remedies because the government did not meet their burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that Reyes was instructed in a language he could understand of the rights he waived by signing the removal waiver, and thus the waiver was not “considered or intelligent.” Reyes met his burden of proving that he was deprived of the opportunity to judicial review because he was not advised of his appeal rights. To meet the third prong, Reyes must show the proceeding was fundamentally unfair because his due process rights were violated and that as a result he suffered prejudice. The Ninth Circuit found Reyes’ due process rights were violated because the government failed to advise Reyes of his rights in a language he could understand. However, Reyes was unable to show he was prejudiced because he failed to demonstrate he had a plausible claim for relief from the 2001 removal order, thus failing to prove the fundamental unfairness of the proceeding. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search