Swaby v. Yates, No. 16-1821 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Swaby, a citizen of Jamaica, entered the U.S. on a tourist visa in 1996 and adjusted to lawful permanent resident status in 2010. In 2013, Swaby pled nolo contendere in Rhode Island to three counts of manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to distribute marijuana. Swaby was charged with removability under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i), which authorizes removal of an alien convicted of a violation of any federal or state law "relating to a controlled substance,” defined as a "drug or other substance" included in one of the five federal drug schedules, 21 U.S.C 802(6). Swaby initially appeared pro se and accepted an order of removal, waiving his right to appeal. In 2015, represented by counsel, Swaby moved to reopen and terminate removal proceedings, arguing that under the Supreme Court’s 2015 holding, Mellouli v. Lynch, his convictions did not qualify as removable offenses. The IJ reopened, but denied Swaby's request for cancellation of removal. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit dismissed in part and denied relief in part. Under the modified categorical approach, the plea documents make clear that Swaby's convictions were for the manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to distribute marijuana and "relat[e] to a controlled substance (as defined in [the federal drug schedules])," as section 1227(a)(2)(B)(i) requires.