Alva Tobias-Chaves v. Merrick Garland

RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION Pursuant to Sixth Circuit I.O.P. 32.1(b) File Name: 21a0129p.06 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT ┐ ALVA DINA TOBIAS-CHAVES; ANA MAVILIA │ RAMOS-TOBIAS, │ Petitioners, > No. 20-4020 │ │ v. │ │ MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General, │ Respondent. │ ┘ On Petition for Review from the Board of Immigration Appeals; Nos. A 206 800 973; A 206-800-974. Decided and Filed: June 8, 2021 Before: GIBBONS, COOK, and DONALD, Circuit Judges. _________________ COUNSEL ON BRIEF: Charles C. Nett, NETT IMMIGRATION LAW OFFICE, PLLC, Louisville, Kentucky, for Petitioners. Timothy G. Hayes, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent. _________________ OPINION _________________ JULIA SMITH GIBBONS, Circuit Judge. Alva Tobias-Chaves and her daughter Ana Ramos-Tobias challenge the jurisdiction of the Immigration Court in Louisville, Kentucky, that denied their request for asylum in the United States. Although there is little question that the Immigration Court in Memphis, Tennessee, violated procedural rules in transferring the proceeding to the newly opened Immigration Court in Louisville sua sponte, that violation was a procedural question relating to venue, not jurisdiction to hear the case. In order to successfully No. 20-4020 Tobias-Chaves, et al. v. Garland Page 2 challenge a procedural error such as an improper change of venue, a petitioner must show prejudice. Tobias-Chaves failed to do so. Accordingly, we affirm the Board of Immigration Appeals. I. Tobias-Chaves and Ramos-Tobias traveled from their home in Honduras and entered the United States in June 2014, hoping to secure asylum and escape from Tobias-Chaves’s abusive husband. The Department of Homeland Security initially filed charges against them in Houston, Texas, where the two were living at the time. The Houston Immigration Court attempted to send Tobias-Chaves a Notice to Appear at a hearing in October 2014, but because of a clerical error she never received the notice. The court conducted the hearing in abstentia and ordered the two women removed. In November 2016, Tobias-Chaves learned (and informed the courts) of the error and the removal order, and her case was reopened in Houston that April. Tobias-Chaves filed an application for asylum concurrently with her motion to reopen. Her case was then transferred to the Immigration Court in Memphis. At that time, there was no immigration court in Louisville, Kentucky, and so the Immigration Court in Memphis oversaw the Louisville cases, including Tobias-Chaves’s, in what was informally known as the “Louisville, Kentucky docket.” An immigration court was created in Louisville in 2018, and control of the “Louisville docket” was transferred from Memphis to Louisville. Tobias-Chaves’s case was included among the transferred cases. The Memphis court did not formally issue an order changing the venue to Louisville, and Tobias-Chaves was not given an opportunity to dispute the venue change. The Immigration Court in Louisville held a hearing on Tobias-Chaves’s reopened removal proceeding and her petition for asylum. Her attorney argued at that hearing that the Louisville court lacked jurisdiction because venue had never properly been transferred from Memphis. The immigration judge denied Tobias-Chaves’s application …

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Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals