United States v. Aguilera-Rios

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 09-24-2014
  • Case #: 12-50597
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Court Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Court Judges Pregerson and Murphy
  • Full Text Opinion

If one is deported due a firearms offense under a state statute, the deportation is improper if the state law is not a categorical match to the federal firearms offense in 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C) and the federal definition for “firearm” in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3).

The panel amended the original opinion filed June 17, 2014. Jorge Aguilera-Rios was convicted of a California firearms offense and was thus removed from the United States in 2000. Six years later, when he was charged with attempted entry after deportation, he alleged that his 2000 removal was improper under 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a) and (b). He argued that the federal definition of “firearm” specifically exempts antique firearms, whereas the California statute does not, making the California law not a categorical match to the federal definition. Because the federal statute is missing an element of the “generic crime,” there were no grounds for removal. In the amended opinion, the panel made two distinct changes. First, throughout the original opinion, the offense that caused Aguilera-Rios’s 2000 deportation is consistently referred to as an “aggravated felony firearms offense” under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(C). This is incorrect because 8 U.S.C. §1227(a)(2)(C) allows an alien to be deported for “certain firearms offenses,” not just “aggravated felony firearms offenses”. Therefore, references to an "aggravated felony firearms offense" in regards to 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(C) was changed to simply "firearms offense". Second, near the end of the opinion, a sentence was added in order to address the relationship between 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(C), the federal firearms exception found at 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), and the case of Moncrieffe v. Holder, which discusses the application of the categorical approach in immigration cases. The sentence explains that 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(C) incorporates the definition of firearms in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3) within it. This definition is the same as that alluded to in Moncrieffe v. Holder. REVERSED.

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