Jovani Casas v. Merrick B. Garland

In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit ____________________ No. 20-1739 JOVANI CASAS, Petitioner, v. MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent. ____________________ Petition for Review of an Order of the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review Immigration Court. No. A089-353-201 ____________________ ARGUED APRIL 8, 2022 — DECIDED AUGUST 29, 2022 ____________________ Before WOOD, HAMILTON, and JACKSON-AKIWUMI, Circuit Judges. JACKSON-AKIWUMI, Circuit Judge. After discovering that Jo- vani Casas had reentered this country without authorization after already being subject to a removal order, the Depart- ment of Homeland Security reinstated her prior removal or- der. Eight years and some procedural errors later, DHS finally sought to remove Casas, but she claimed she feared returning 2 No. 20-1739 to Mexico. An asylum officer determined that Casas did not have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in returning to Mexico, and the Immigration Judge (IJ) agreed. Casas then petitioned us for review. But because Casas cannot show that she suffered any prejudice as a result of DHS’s procedural er- rors, and because the IJ’s reasonable-fear finding is supported by substantial evidence, we must deny her petition. I In 2008, DHS removed Casas, a Mexican citizen, from the United States pursuant to a valid removal order. Four years later, DHS learned she had returned to this country after she was arrested by local authorities for driving without a license. So DHS sought to reinstate her 2008 removal order. The relevant form by which DHS sought to reinstate Casas’s 2008 removal order is Form I-871, titled Notice of In- tent/Decision to Reinstate Prior Order. Despite its title, the form actually has three separate sections to be filled out on three separate occasions: (1) a large section providing notice to the noncitizen of DHS’s intent to reinstate a removal order, (2) a section for the noncitizen to acknowledge receipt of the notice, and (3) a final section for DHS’s ultimate decision re- instating a removal order. According to the dates on the Form I-871 Casas received, DHS made its decision to reinstate Casas’s removal order first, and then gave Casas notice either one day or six months late—an inversion of the procedure ordinarily requiring no- tice to a noncitizen before a final decision is rendered. See 8 C.F.R. § 241.8. The large notice section at the top of the form is dated a day after the decision to reinstate, so DHS purport- edly provided Casas with the notice of its intent to reinstate No. 20-1739 3 the order at that time. But the middle section of the form shows that Casas acknowledged receipt of the notice six months after the decision to reinstate the order was made— suggesting that Casas may not have even seen the form until then. Further, in her acknowledgment, Casas did not indicate whether she wanted to make a statement contesting the de- termination. After reinstating the prior removal order, DHS released Casas on supervision. For seven years, Casas remained on su- …

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