United States v. Guzman-Ibarez

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 07-06-2015
  • Case #: 14-50142
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fernandez for the Court; Circuit Judges Fisher and Bea; Partial Dissent and Partial Concurrence by Fisher
  • Full Text Opinion

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibilities Act applies to defendants who were under criminal indictment but had not been sentenced at the time of enactment, but it does not retroactively deprive defendants of relief that was available at the time a plea was entered.

Raul Guzman-Ibarez, born in Mexico, came to the United States in 1979, eventually becoming a Legal Permanent Resident (“LPR”) in 1989. Guzman committed several crimes during his residency triggering a deportation proceeding against him in late 1995. During the proceedings, Guzman was convicted of first degree robbery in 1997 and sentenced to prison. This charge was used to support Guzman’s deportation in 1999. The Immigration Judge (“IJ”) found Guzman deportable because he was an alien who committed an aggravated felony and for his firearms offense. Guzman was deported, but returned to the United States and was arrested, at which time he moved to dismiss his indictment. Guzman argued: 1) his due process rights had been violated because his indictment of first degree robbery preceded the enactment of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibilities Act (“IIRIRA”), which reclassified his crime as an aggravated felony; 2) that the IJ erred by failing to inform him of his possible relief under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(c); and 3) the IJ also erred by failing to inform him of relief under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(h). On appeal, the Ninth Circuit rejected Guzman’s first claim, holding that because the IIRIRA was enacted before sentencing, the IIRIRA applied, the robbery offense was an aggravated felony, and Guzman’s rights were not violated. The panel agreed with Guzman’s second claim, finding that the IIRIRA § 304(b) provision did not retroactively deprive Guzman of his relief under § 1182(c), therefore, Guzman’s due process rights were violated and the district court should have determined if such violation resulted in prejudice. Lastly, the panel disagreed with Guzman’s third claim, holding that Guzman was ineligible for relief under § 1182(h) because he was not admitted as a LPR, but became one after residency. VACATED and REMANDED.

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