News from the Courts
- Supreme Court query puts Janet Napolitano on the spot
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Board of Immigration Appeals decision not to reopen removal proceedings because the BIA failed to explain why new evidence presented by the immigrant failed to demonstrate a change of country conditions. This is noteworthy because "courts review the BIA's denial of a motion to reopen for abuse of discretion, and grant a petition for review only if the BIA decision is arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law." Nken v. Holder, (4th Cir. 2009).
The respondent, a citizen ofCameroon, filed a motion to reopen his removal proceedings based on changed conditions within his home country in May 2008. The BIA denied Nken's petition and he appealed.
In reversing the BIA, the 4th circuit noted that the BIA failed to explain why the respondent's new evidence did not show a change in country conditions. Specifically, the court stated "the BIA abuses its discretion when it fails to offer a reasoned explanation for its decision, distorts or disregards important aspects of the alienís claim."
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Politico.com reports that a query from the Supreme Court is forcing the Obama administration to wrestle with the limits of statesí authority to enforce immigration laws ó and also is putting Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in an uncomfortable position. Justices asked the Justice Department to provide its views on Arizonaís attempt to force employers to verify the immigration status of potential employees. The law being challenged in the cases was signed by Napolitano in 2007, when she was governor of Arizona.
Napolitano has stated that she believes the law is constitutional, but business groups and immigration reform advocates are asking the Supreme Court to strike down the statute. A federal appeals court rejected the legal challenges to the Arizona law. The Supreme Court has not said that it will take the case but wants the administrationís view on whether further review is warranted.
A spokesman for Napolitano, Matt Chandler, declined to say whether the secretary, would recuse herself from the matter. Her department is in charge of enforcing federal immigration laws and thus could be expected to have a voice in the Administrationís position. But Napolitano wonít make the ultimate call, Chandler said, adding, 'This is a decision for the solicitor general.'
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