Genego v. Barr, No. 16-867 (2d Cir. 2019)

Annotate this Case
Justia Opinion Summary

Petitioner, a native and citizen of Ghana, sought review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's order of removal based on petitioner's prior Connecticut conviction for third‐degree burglary, which the BIA determined was a crime of violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. 16(b). The Supreme Court subsequently decided Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), which found that section 16(b) was unconstitutionally vague and void. The Second Circuit held that the Supreme Court's holding in Dimaya made it clear that petitioner was no longer subject to removal proceedings and granted the petition for review, vacating the order of removal and terminating removal proceedings.

Download PDF
16 867 Genego v. Barr UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT ____________________ 1 2 3 4 August Term, 2018 5 6 7 8 (Argued: January 9, 2019 10 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Decided: May 2, 2019) Docket No. 16 867 ____________________ 9 12 KWEI GENEGO, aka CYRIL GENEGO, Petitioner, v. WILLIAM P. BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent. ____________________ Before: CALABRESI and POOLER, Circuit Judges, and RAMOS, District Judge.1 Judge Edgardo Ramos, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, sitting by designation. 1 1 Kwei Genego, a native and citizen of Ghana, seeks review of a February 24, 2 2016, decision of the Bureau of Immigration Affairs (“BIA”) affirming a March 9, 3 2015, decision of an immigration judge ordering his removal. In re Kwei Genego, 4 No. A047 376 145 (B.I.A. Feb. 24, 2016), aff’g No. A047 376 145 (Immig. Ct. 5 Hartford Mar. 9, 2015). The sole basis for the removal order is Genego’s 6 Connecticut conviction for third degree burglary, which the BIA determined was 7 a crime of violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 16(b). Subsequently, the Supreme 8 Court handed down its decision in Sessions v. Dimaya finding 18 U.S.C. § 16(b) 9 unconstitutionally vague and thus void. 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018). Section 16(b) was 10 the only ground for Genego’s removal. On January 10, 2019, this Court filed an 11 order granting Genego’s petition for review, terminating all removal 12 proceedings, and indicating an opinion would follow. 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Petition granted. ____________________ NANCY E. MARTIN, Collins & Martin, P.C. (Anthony D. Collins, on the brief), Wethersfield, CT, for Petitioner Kwei Genego. SONG E. PARK, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, United States Department of 2 Justice, Civil Division (Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General; Cindy Ferrier, Assistant Director, on the brief), Washington, DC, for Respondent William P. Barr. VALERIE CAHAN, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP (Vilia B. Hayes, Sarah L. Cave, Karen M. Chau, on the brief), New York, NY, amicus curiae in support of Petitioner. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 POOLER, Circuit Judge: Kwei Genego, a native and citizen of Ghana, seeks review of a February 24, 13 2016, decision of the Bureau of Immigration Affairs (“BIA”) affirming a March 9, 14 2015, decision of an immigration judge ordering his removal. In re Kwei Genego, 15 No. A047 376 145 (B.I.A. Feb. 24, 2016), aff’g No. A047 376 145 (Immig. Ct. 16 Hartford Mar. 9, 2015). The sole basis for the removal order is Genego’s 17 Connecticut conviction for third degree burglary, which the BIA determined was 18 a crime of violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 16(b). Subsequently, the Supreme 19 Court handed down its decision in Sessions v. Dimaya finding 18 U.S.C. § 16(b) 20 unconstitutionally vague and thus void. 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018). Section 16(b) was 21 the only ground for Genego’s removal. On January 10, 2019, this Court filed an 3 1 order granting Genego’s petition for review, terminating all removal 2 proceedings, and indicating an opinion would follow. BACKGROUND 3 4 Genego, a native and citizen of Ghana, is a lawful permanent resident of 5 the United States. He immigrated to the United States in 2001, when he was 11 6 years old, and lives with his parents in Connecticut. Genego’s mother is a 7 naturalized citizen, and his father is a lawful permanent resident. In October 8 2011, Genego pled guilty to burglary in the third degree in violation of Section 9 53(a) 103 of the Connecticut General Statutes, which provides that “[a] person is 10 guilty of burglary in the third degree when he enters or remains unlawfully in a 11 building with intent to commit a crime therein.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53(a) 103. 12 13 deportable as an “alien . . . convicted of an aggravated felony . . . after 14 admission.” 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). The Notice to Appear alleged that 15 Genego’s conviction was an aggravated felony because it fell into the categories 16 of either (1) “a theft offense . . . or burglary offense for which the term of Genego was placed in removal proceedings, charged with being 4 1 imprisonment [is] at least one year,” 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(G); or (2) a “crime of 2 violence” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 16, see 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(F). 3 4 proceedings, challenging both grounds for deportation. On March 10, 2014, an 5 immigration judge ordered Genego removed to Ghana, finding his conviction 6 constituted both an aggravated burglary offense and a crime of violence as set 7 forth in the Notice to Appear. Genego filed a timely appeal to the BIA. On 8 October 2, 2014, the BIA reversed the immigration judge’s order. The BIA found 9 that the government failed to meet “its burden of demonstrating by clear and Genego denied removability and moved to terminate the removal 10 convincing evidence that [Genego] is removable for having been convicted of an 11 aggravated felony burglary offense, as defined in section 101(a)(43)(G) of the 12 Act.” Administrative Record at 142. The BIA also found that the immigration 13 judge erred in analyzing Genego’s removability under Section 16(b). It remanded 14 the matter so that the immigration judge could determine, in the first instance, 15 whether the government demonstrated “that ‘in the ordinary case,’ a violation of 16 CGSA § 53a 103 presents a substantial risk of the use of physical force against the 5 1 person or property of another, as necessary to find that [Genego] was convicted 2 of a crime of violence aggravated felony.” Administration Record at 144. 3 4 The immigration judge determined that Genego’s conviction constituted a crime 5 of violence under the residual clause of Section 16(b) because “in the ordinary 6 case, violation of the statute arises from the destructive application of force to the 7 person or property of another.” Administrative Record at 94. Genego again 8 appealed to the BIA. On February 24, 2016, the BIA affirmed the immigration 9 judge’s decision and dismissed the appeal, agreeing that Connecticut General On March 9, 2015, the immigration judge again ordered Genego removed. 10 Statue § 53a 103 is a crime of violence as defined in Section 16(b). 11 12 pending the Supreme Court’s decision in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 13 (2018). On April 17, 2018, the Supreme Court decided Dimaya and struck Section 14 16(b) as unconstitutionally vague. Id. at 1210. The parties in this matter then filed 15 letter briefs, and oral argument was held on January 9, 2019. We issued an order 16 on January 10, 2019, granting the petition and vacating the order of removal, 17 with this opinion to follow. Genego timely petitioned this Court for review. We stayed the appeal 6 DISCUSSION 1 2 Whether Genego’s third degree burglary conviction (Connecticut General 3 Statute § 53a 103) is a crime of violence aggravated felony is a question of law 4 over which we have jurisdiction. Vargas Sarmiento v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 448 F.3d 5 159, 164 (2d Cir. 2006). Our review is de novo. Id. at 165. 6 7 removal: the finding that he committed a “crime of violence” within the meaning 8 of Section 16(b). A “crime of violence” is defined in Section 16(b) “any other 9 offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that The October 2, 2014 decision of the BIA left only one ground for Genego’s 10 physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the 11 course of committing the offense.” 18 U.S.C. § 16(b). The Supreme Court found 12 that Section 16(b) contained both “an ordinary case requirement and an ill 13 defined risk threshold,” which “invited arbitrary enforcement[] and failed to 14 provide fair notice.” Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. at 1223 (internal quotation marks 15 omitted). It thus “produces more unpredictability and arbitrariness than the Due 16 Process Clause tolerates,“ rendering it unconstitutionally vague and thus void. 17 Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). 7 1 2 finding that his conviction was a crime of violence within the meaning of Section 3 16(b). Nevertheless, the government urges remand to the BIA so that the BIA 4 could determine the impact of Dimaya on Genego’s case in the first instance. We 5 decline that invitation: the question is one of law, well within this Court’s 6 purview. 7 As the government concedes, the only basis for Genego’s removal is the The government is correct that in most circumstances, granting the petition 8 would result in remand with instructions to the BIA to terminate Genego’s 9 removal proceedings. See INS v. Orlando Ventura, 537 U.S. 12, 16 (2002) 10 (“Generally speaking, a court of appeals should remand a case to an agency for 11 decision of a matter that statutes place primarily in agency hands.”). But 12 “[r]emand is unnecessary if it would be pointless or futile, such as where there is 13 an alternative and sufficient basis for the result, the error is tangential to non 14 erroneous reasoning, or the overwhelming evidence makes the same decision 15 inevitable.” See De La Rosa v. Holder, 598 F.3d 103, 108 (2d Cir. 2010); see also 16 NLRB v. Wyman Gordon Co., 394 U.S. 759, 766 n.6 (1969) (noting that when “there 17 is not the slightest uncertainty as to the outcome of a proceeding[,] . . . it would 8 1 be meaningless to remand.”). Here, the BIA already concluded Genego was not 2 removable based on 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(F). The government identifies no other 3 basis for removability. And this case was argued during the recent government 4 shutdown, which exacerbated the backlog of immigration cases. 2 We thus chose 5 to simply order the removal proceedings terminated. CONCLUSION 6 7 As the Supreme Court’s holding in Dimaya makes pellucidly clear that 8 Genego is no longer subject to removal proceedings, we (1) grant the petition for 9 review, (2) vacate the order of removal, and (3) terminate the removal 10 proceedings. The Government’s motion to file a late brief is hereby GRANTED 11 nunc pro tunc. See, e.g., Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse Univ., Cancelled Immigration Court Hearings Grows as Shutdown Continues (Jan. 14, 2019), trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/543/ (documenting backlog in immigration courts, both before and during the shutdown). 9 2

Primary Holding

Sessions v. Dimaya made it clear that petitioner was no longer subject to removal for a crime of violence based on his prior Connecticut conviction for third‐degree burglary.

Disclaimer: Justia Annotations is a forum for attorneys to summarize, comment on, and analyze case law published on our site. Justia makes no guarantees or warranties that the annotations are accurate or reflect the current state of law, and no annotation is intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. Contacting Justia or any attorney through this site, via web form, email, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship.