Jorge Romero Castillo v. Attorney General United States

NOT PRECEDENTIAL UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT _____________ No. 21-2220 _____________ JORGE ALBERTO ROMERO CASTILLO, Petitioner v. ATTORNEY GENERAL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA _______________ On Petition for Review of a Final Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals No. A200-885-432 Immigration Judge: David Cheng _______________ Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit L.A.R. 34.1(a) on March 3, 2022 Before: McKEE, AMBRO, and SMITH, Circuit Judges. (Filed September 20, 2022) _______________ OPINION* _______________ * This disposition is not an opinion of the full Court and pursuant to I.O.P. 5.7 does not constitute binding precedent. McKEE, Circuit Judge. Jorge Romero-Castillo petitions for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals affirming the Immigration Judge’s entry of an absentia removal order after he failed to appear for a hearing. We will grant the petition in part, deny it in part, and remand to the BIA for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. I. Romero-Castillo appeared in immigration court for removal hearings at least three times between 2011 and 2014.1 A hearing scheduled in October 2017 was continued because his then-attorney had a family emergency.2 Romero-Castillo understood that his attorney would advise him of the new date for the next hearing.3 Around this time Romero-Castillo and his wife experienced a period of homelessness.4 Unable to pay rent, he and his wife were evicted from their apartment and lost all of their possessions.5 Unable to pay their bills, their mobile phones were also disconnected.6 For more than two months, the couple either lived in their car or stayed with a friend.7 Eventually, Romero-Castillo secured a temporary place to stay.8 When Romero-Castillo next called his attorney he discovered he had missed a rescheduled 1 AR 95, 321–29. 2 AR 171. 3 AR 95. 4 AR 99. 5 AR 99. 6 AR 99. 7 AR 100. 8 AR 100. 2 hearing in front of an IJ on January 18, 2018, and because of his failure to appear had been ordered removed to Mexico in absentia.9 Romero-Castillo filed a motion to reopen removal proceedings through new counsel on July 11, 2018.10 The IJ denied his motion finding that because “no information ha[d] been provided as why he would be unable to contact his prior counsel[,]” and thus Romero-Castillo had not established exceptional circumstances to warrant reopening.11 The BIA dismissed his appeal of that order, and this petition for review followed.12 II.13 At the outset, we disagree with Romero-Castillo’s jurisdictional challenge to the proceedings before the IJ14 based upon the Supreme Court’s decisions in Pereira v. Sessions15 and Niz-Chavez v. Garland.16 We have previously rejected this argument in 9 See AR 100. “Any alien who, after written notice . . . has been provided to the alien or the alien’s counsel of record, does not attend a proceeding . . . shall be ordered removed in absentia if the Service establishes by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence that the written notice was so provided and that the alien is removable . . . .” 8 …

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