Rodriguez-Saragosa v. Sessions, No. 16-60515

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtSTEPHEN A. HIGGINSON, Circuit Judge
Citation904 F.3d 349
Decision Date14 September 2018
Docket NumberNo. 16-60515
Parties Jose Luis RODRIGUEZ-SARAGOSA, Petitioner v. Jefferson B. SESSIONS, III, U.S. Attorney General, Respondent

904 F.3d 349

Jose Luis RODRIGUEZ-SARAGOSA, Petitioner
v.
Jefferson B. SESSIONS, III, U.S. Attorney General, Respondent

No. 16-60515

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

FILED September 14, 2018


Stephen Joseph O'Connor, O'Connor & Associates, P.L.L.C., Austin, TX, for Petitioner.

Papu Sandhu, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, Jason Lloyd Wisecup, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC, for Respondent.

Before DAVIS, JONES, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.

STEPHEN A. HIGGINSON, Circuit Judge:

Jose Luis Rodriguez-Saragosa’s application for cancellation of removal was denied for reasons that have since become legally infirm. But rather than challenge his removal from abroad, Rodriguez-Saragosa reentered the country illegally. More than a decade later, immigration authorities re-apprehended him, and he moved the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to reopen his original removal proceedings.

The difficulty, however, is 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(5), which provides: "If the [Secretary of Homeland Security] finds that an alien has reentered the United States illegally after having been removed," the prior order of removal "is not subject to being reopened." Because Rodriguez-Saragosa concedes that such a finding was made in his case, his original order of removal (and the proceedings of which it was a part) are "not subject to being reopened." The BIA was thus correct to deny his motion to reopen. We deny his petition for review.

I

In 1999, an immigration judge found Rodriguez-Saragosa unlawfully present in the United States and ordered him removed to Mexico. See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). The immigration judge also denied Rodriguez-Saragosa’s application for the discretionary form of relief known as cancellation of removal. Specifically, the immigration judge held that Rodriguez-Saragosa’s 1989 conviction for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle in violation of Texas Penal Code section 31.07 constituted a conviction for a "crime of violence" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 16(b), rendering Rodriguez-Saragosa statutorily ineligible for relief. See 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1)(C) ; see also §§ 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii); 1101(a)(43)(F); United States v. Galvan-Rodriguez , 169 F.3d 217, 220 (5th Cir. 1999). The BIA affirmed that decision in April 2002, and the removal order became final. Rodriguez-Saragosa was removed to Mexico shortly thereafter.

Nonetheless, Rodriguez-Saragosa unlawfully reentered the country in April 2003. He resumed living with his family in Austin, Texas until October 2015, when he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated.

904 F.3d 352

At that point, Rodriguez-Saragosa came to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whose agents arrested him and charged him with unlawful reentry. See 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a). According to Rodriguez-Saragosa’s filings in our court, DHS also used this opportunity to reinstate his 2002 removal order (although the administrative record omits the official notice of that action).

While in federal custody in January 2016, Rodriguez-Saragosa met with his present counsel, who informed him for the first time that his 1989 conviction no longer qualified as a conviction for a § 16(b)"crime of violence" under our court’s decision in United States v. Armendariz-Moreno , 571 F.3d 490, 491 (5th Cir. 2009) (deeming Galvan-Rodriguez overruled). Then, in February 2016, a panel of this court held that no offense qualifies as a "crime of violence" under § 16(b) because that provision is unconstitutionally vague. See United States v. Gonzalez-Longoria , 813 F.3d 225, 227 (5th Cir. 2016), rev’d on reh’g en banc , 831 F.3d 670 (5th Cir. Aug. 5, 2016), but core holding re-instated by Sessions v. Dimaya , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 1204, 1210, 200 L.Ed.2d 549 (2018).

Thus, in April 2016, Rodriguez-Saragosa filed with the BIA a motion to reopen his original 2002 removal order so he could re-apply for cancellation of removal. Acknowledging that his motion was almost fourteen years untimely, see 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7)(A), Rodriguez-Saragosa asked that the statutory deadline be equitably tolled in light of the changes to the law in Armendariz-Moreno and the panel disposition of Gonzalez-Longoria , and in light of other humanitarian concerns. In the alternative, Rodriguez-Saragosa argued that those same factors justified the BIA’s use of its own discretionary authority to reopen removal proceedings sua sponte . See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(a).

The BIA denied the motion. It issued a single-judge order rejecting Rodriguez-Saragosa’s requests on the grounds that (1) the motion was untimely under the terms of the statute; (2) the panel disposition of Gonzalez-Longoria had been vacated by the grant of en banc rehearing, see 815 F.3d 189 (5th Cir. Feb. 26, 2016) ; and (3) "the record indicates" that Rodriguez-Saragosa’s 2002 removal order "may have been reinstated by DHS" and "therefore is not subject to reopening" due to the restrictions in 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(5). The BIA also determined that the post-departure bar regulations "further support[ed] a denial of sua sponte reopening." See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(d).

Rodriguez-Saragosa petitioned our court for review.

II

This case centers on the unique procedures that come into play when an alien who has been ordered removed reenters the country illegally. Those procedures are codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(5) :

If the [Secretary of Homeland Security] finds that an alien has reentered the United States illegally after having been removed or having departed voluntarily, under an order of removal, the prior order of removal is reinstated from its original date and is not subject to being reopened or reviewed, the alien is not eligible and may not apply for any relief under this chapter, and the alien shall be removed under the prior order at any time after the reentry.

Thus, once an appropriate DHS officer determines that an alien has reentered the country illegally, the alien’s original order of removal "is reinstated," and the alien is subject to removal under the terms of the original removal order. § 1231(a)(5) ; see 8 C.F.R. § 1241.8(a), (c). The determination

904 F.3d 353

by DHS that § 1231(a)(5) ’s prerequisites have been met is referred to as a "reinstatement order," and it is a valid subject of a petition for review in a federal court of appeals. See 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(1) ; Martinez v. Johnson , 740 F.3d 1040, 1043 n.4 (5th Cir. 2014) ; Anderson v. Napolitano , 611 F.3d 275, 277–78 (5th Cir. 2010) ; Ojeda-Terrazas v. Ashcroft , 290 F.3d 292, 295 (5th Cir. 2002).

But Rodriguez-Saragosa is not petitioning for review of his reinstatement order. Instead, he moved the BIA to reopen his original removal proceedings. Each alien who has been ordered removed has the statutory right to file one such motion, 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7)(A), Mata v. Lynch , ––– U.S. ––––, 135 S.Ct. 2150, 2153, 192 L.Ed.2d 225 (2015), and, although the motion must generally be filed within 90 days of the final order of removal, see § 1229a(c)(7)(C)(i), that deadline "is subject to equitable tolling," Lugo-Resendez v. Lynch , 831 F.3d 337, 344 (5th Cir. 2016). In addition, separate regulations authorize the BIA to reopen removal proceedings sua sponte at any time. See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(a). As with reinstatement orders, any decision of the BIA "refusing to reopen or reconsider" an order of removal is a valid subject for a petition for review. See § 1252(a)(1) ; Mata , 135 S.Ct. at 2154...

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19 practice notes
  • United States v. Castro -Gomez, 1:18-CR-187-RP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • February 8, 2019
    ...case is "not subject to being reopened" because his removal order has been reinstated by DHS. Rodriguez–Saragosa v. Sessions , 904 F.3d 349, 355 (5th Cir. 2018) ; 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(5). Additionally, because Castro-Gomez was removed pursuant to his original removal order in 2004, federal re......
  • Diaz-Calderon v. Barr, 2:20-CV-11235-TGB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • September 22, 2020
    ...avoid putting the government to the task of repeating the entire removal administrative process. Rodriguez-Saragosa v. Sessions, 904 F.3d 349, 354 (5th Cir. 2018) (explaining that Congress enacted § 1231(a)(5) "to expedite re-removal of a person who returns without permission after being re......
  • Gutierrez-Zavala v. Garland, 20-73398
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 26, 2022
    ...the country illegally. That is the clear import of the statute's unambiguous text." Id. at 1085 (quoting Rodriguez-Saragosa v. Sessions , 904 F.3d 349, 354 (5th Cir. 2018) ). The BIA did not discuss our decision in Cuenca , in which we issued an amended opinion only several months before th......
  • Luna-Garcia De Garcia v. Barr, No. 15-60526
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 22, 2019
    ...of law’ " in 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(D). Mejia v. Whitaker , 913 F.3d 482, 488 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting Rodriguez-Saragosa v. Sessions , 904 F.3d 349, 354 (5th Cir. 2018) ); see also Ramirez-Molina , 436 F.3d at 513–14. The savings provision in § 1252(a)(2)(D) states:Nothing in subparagraph (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • United States v. Castro -Gomez, 1:18-CR-187-RP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • February 8, 2019
    ...case is "not subject to being reopened" because his removal order has been reinstated by DHS. Rodriguez–Saragosa v. Sessions , 904 F.3d 349, 355 (5th Cir. 2018) ; 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(5). Additionally, because Castro-Gomez was removed pursuant to his original removal order in 2004, federal re......
  • Diaz-Calderon v. Barr, 2:20-CV-11235-TGB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • September 22, 2020
    ...avoid putting the government to the task of repeating the entire removal administrative process. Rodriguez-Saragosa v. Sessions, 904 F.3d 349, 354 (5th Cir. 2018) (explaining that Congress enacted § 1231(a)(5) "to expedite re-removal of a person who returns without permission after being re......
  • Gutierrez-Zavala v. Garland, 20-73398
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 26, 2022
    ...the country illegally. That is the clear import of the statute's unambiguous text." Id. at 1085 (quoting Rodriguez-Saragosa v. Sessions , 904 F.3d 349, 354 (5th Cir. 2018) ). The BIA did not discuss our decision in Cuenca , in which we issued an amended opinion only several months before th......
  • Luna-Garcia De Garcia v. Barr, No. 15-60526
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 22, 2019
    ...of law’ " in 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(D). Mejia v. Whitaker , 913 F.3d 482, 488 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting Rodriguez-Saragosa v. Sessions , 904 F.3d 349, 354 (5th Cir. 2018) ); see also Ramirez-Molina , 436 F.3d at 513–14. The savings provision in § 1252(a)(2)(D) states:Nothing in subparagraph (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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