Yeison Meza Morales v. William Barr

In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit ____________________ No. 19-1999 YEISON MEZA MORALES, Petitioner, v. WILLIAM P. BARR, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent. ____________________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A216-222-551 ____________________ ARGUED APRIL 7, 2020 — DECIDED JUNE 26, 2020 ____________________ Before ROVNER, HAMILTON, and BARRETT, Circuit Judges. BARRETT, Circuit Judge. Yeison Meza Morales is a native and citizen of Mexico who entered the United States without inspection as a child. As an adult, Meza Morales petitioned for U nonimmigrant status, a special visa for victims of certain crimes. While his petition was pending, he was charged as re- movable based on two grounds of inadmissibility. Meza Mo- rales cited his pending U visa petition as a defense to his re- moval. The immigration judge agreed to waive both grounds 2 No. 19-1999 of inadmissibility to allow him to pursue the U visa petition, but later ordered Meza Morales removed as charged on those same grounds. Meza Morales petitioned us for review of the removal or- der. He contends that the immigration judge’s initial waiver of both grounds of inadmissibility precluded their use as grounds for an order of removal. We disagree; Meza Mo- rales’s position would effectively turn the inadmissibility waiver into a substitute for the U visa itself. We nevertheless grant his petition for review on two other bases. Meza Mo- rales had asked the immigration judge to continue or admin- istratively close his case instead of ordering removal. The im- migration judge entered the removal order based on the con- clusion that those alternative procedures were inappropriate, and the Board affirmed on the same basis. But those alterna- tives were wrongly rejected. We grant the petition for review and remand the case so that the Board can reconsider. I. A noncitizen who becomes a victim of certain crimes while in the United States may petition for U nonimmigrant sta- tus—more commonly known as a U visa. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(U). Congress created the visa to encourage crime victims to report crimes and assist law enforcement with investigation and prosecution. A U visa generally enti- tles an eligible noncitizen to lawfully remain in the United States and to seek work authorization. Id. § 1184(p)(6). The decision whether to grant a U visa petition is commit- ted by statute to the Secretary of Homeland Security, who ex- ercises this authority through U.S. Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS). See 8 C.F.R. § 214.14. To qualify for a U visa, No. 19-1999 3 a noncitizen must satisfy four substantive criteria: (1) he must have suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” as the result of one of the crimes listed in the U visa provision; (2) he must possess credible and reliable knowledge of the details of the crime; (3) he must help or be likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and (4) the crime must have taken place in the United ...

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