The Matter of H. Estrada: Overview

 

Introduction: Matter of H. Estrada

Matter of H. EstradaOn May 27, 2016, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a precedent decision titled the Matter of H. Estrada, 26 I&N Dec. 749 (BIA 2016) [PDF version]. The decision dealt with two issues regarding criminal aliens. Firstly, the Board found that the “circumstance-specific approach” may be used to determine whether a conviction is for a crime of domestic violence under the deportability provision in section 237(a)(2)(E)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Secondly, the Board determined that when a sentence is ambiguous as to whether an alien was sentenced to probation or a probated term of imprisonment-with respect to determining whether the alien was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least 1 year for purpose of his conviction qualifying as an aggravated felony for a crime of violence under section 101(a)(43)(F)-“a clarification order issued by the sentencing judge to correct an obvious discrepancy in [the] original order will be given effect” in determining whether the alien was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 1 year.

In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the facts of the case, its procedural history, and the Board's decision.

To learn about the issues in the Matter of H. Estrada in depth, please see our full articles on the Board's reasoning.

  • See our article about Analyzing When a Conviction is for a Crime of Domestic Violence in the Matter of H. Estrada [see article]; and
  • See our article about Deference to Clarifying Orders to Determine Length of Term of Imprisonment in the Matter of H. Estrada [see article].

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

The respondent became a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in 1991. In 1999, he was convicted of simple battery in violation of section 16-5-23(a)(2) of the Georgia Code Annotated under a guilty plea. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated removal proceedings against the respondent on the basis of this conviction.

The Immigration Judge found that the respondent was removable under two sections of the INA. Firstly, the Immigration Judge found that the respondent was removable under section 237(a)(2)(E)(i), “as an alien convicted of a crime of domestic violence.” Secondly, the Immigration Judge found that the respondent was removable under section 237(a)(2)(A)(iii), as an alien who was convicted of an aggravated felony for a crime of violence [see section]. Furthermore, because the Immigration Judge found that the respondent had committed an aggravated felony [see article], the respondent was found to be ineligible to pursue cancellation of removal under section 240A(a)(3) [see article].

The respondent appealed the decision to the BIA, arguing that his conviction was neither for a crime of domestic violence nor an aggravated felony for a crime of violence. Accordingly, the respondent argued that he was eligible to pursue cancellation of removal.

Decision

The Board dismissed the respondent's appeal in part and sustained the appeal in part. The Board dismissed the respondent's appeal with regard to section 237(a)(2)(A)(iii), finding that his conviction was for a crime of domestic violence under the INA. However, the Board sustained the respondent's appeal in finding that because he was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least one year, his conviction was not for an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(F).

The Board remanded the record back to the Immigration Judge for further proceedings. Because the respondent is no longer convicted of an aggravated felony, he is statutorily eligible to pursue cancellation of removal.

Conclusion

The Matter of H. Estrada touches on two interesting issues having to do with criminal aliens [see section]. We encourage you to read our full articles on each of the main issues presented in the Matter of H. Estrada [see section].