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Mendias-Mendoza v. Sessions

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 12, 2017

MIGUEL MENDIAS-MENDOZA, Also Known as Javier Arturo Segovia-Mendias, Petitioner,
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, U.S. Attorney General. Respondent.

         Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals

          Before SMITH, BARKSDALE, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.

          JERRY E. SMITH, Circuit Judge

         Miguel Mendias-Mendoza was found deportable by an immigration judge ("IJ") in 1991. In 2014―twenty-three years after the IJ's final deportation order―Mendias-Mendoza submitted to the IJ a motion to reopen his deportation. The IJ denied that motion, the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") affirmed, and this petition for review followed. We deny the petition.


         Mendias-Mendoza, a native and citizen of Mexico, entered the United States without inspection on October 4, 1991. On the same day, the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") served him with an order to show cause, charging him with deportability under § 241(a)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1251(a)(1)(B) (1991). The reason was that Mendias-Mendoza had entered the United States without inspection. Mendias-Mendoza obtained an attorney, who filed a notice of appearance.

         On October 16, 1991, the IJ held a deportation hearing. In connection with the hearing, Mendias-Mendoza entered into a written stipulation with the INS stating that he "underst[oo]d[] the nature and purpose of the deportation hearing and waive[d] any further explanation thereof." The stipulation also provided that he "admit[ted] all of the allegations of fact and conced[ed] the charge of deportability." The section of the stipulation allowing Mendias-Mendoza time to seek relief from deportation was crossed out. The stipulation further noted that he "agree[d] to accept the decision of the [IJ]" and "waive[d] appeal." It was signed by Mendias-Mendoza's attorney, an INS representative, and the IJ. Based on the stipulation, the IJ determined that Mendias-Mendoza was deportable as charged and ordered him deported to Mexico.

         In November 2014, Mendias-Mendoza, through new counsel, moved to reopen in the immigration court. He asserted that he had lied to immigration officials in 1991 and had obtained lawful permanent resident ("LPR") status in October 1989. The only evidence in support of his motion was his affidavit, in which he claimed that he gave the Border Patrol agents a fake name in 1991, falsely informing them that he was undocumented. He also averred that he returned to the United States on the same day he was deported by using his LPR card and that he renewed his LPR card on two other occasions. Although not reflected in his affidavit, Mendias-Mendoza asserted in his motion that his wife had been granted LPR status in 2009 based on his application. He also maintained that immigration authorities committed several procedural errors during his 1991 deportation proceedings. For example, he asserted that they did not process his fingerprints to verify his identity.

         The IJ initially indicated that the motion to reopen was not untimely, because the time and numerical limitations on such motions do not apply to proceedings begun before 1992 under the former INA § 242(b), 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b). Then, the IJ concluded that Mendias-Mendoza had "provided no evidence to support his allegation" regarding his LPR status "other than his affidavit." But, the IJ explained, Mendias-Mendoza had not demonstrated that his alleged LPR status was unavailable at the time of his deportation proceedings. Moreover, the IJ determined that Mendias-Mendoza failed to establish prima facie eligibility for adjustment of status or to submit a required application to adjust his status. Finally, the IJ declined to exercise his sua sponte discretion to reopen the deportation proceedings.

         The BIA dismissed Mendias-Mendoza's appeal, agreeing that he had provided insufficient evidence that he was an LPR at the time of his 1991 deportation proceedings. The BIA also concluded that Mendias-Mendoza had failed to give material evidence that was previously unavailable, to submit an application for relief, or to establish prima facie eligibility for the relief sought. The BIA similarly declined to exercise its sua sponte authority to reopen.


         "Motions to reopen deportation proceedings are disfavored, " and the party seeking relief has a heavy burden. Altamirano-Lopez v. Gonzales, 435 F.3d 547, 549-50 (5th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted). We review "the denial of a motion to reopen under a highly deferential abuse-of- discretion standard." Barrios-Cantarero v. Holder, 772 F.3d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). The BIA "abuses its discretion" when it "issues a decision that is capricious, irrational, utterly without foundation in the evidence, based on legally erroneous interpretations of statutes or regulations, or based on unexplained departures from regulations or established policies." Id.

         We review the BIA's conclusions of law de novo and its findings of fact for substantial evidence. Id. Under "substantial evidence" review, "this court may not overturn the BIA's factual findings unless the evidence compels a contrary conclusion." Gomez-Palacios v. Holder, 560 F.3d 354, 358 (5th Cir. 2009). Finally, we review only the order of the BIA "unless the IJ's decision has some impact on the BIA's decision, " Mikhael v. INS, 115 F.3d 299, 302 (5th Cir. 1997), in which case we review the IJ's decision as well, Wang v. Holder, 569 F.3d 531, 536 (5th Cir. 2009). Because ...

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