Khan v. Garland, No. 21-60146 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Cambodia, was admitted to the United States as a refugee in 1983. In 1999, he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property in violation of 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 3925(a) in Pennsylvania state court and was sentenced to 3 to 24 months imprisonment. Based on that conviction, Petitioner was charged as removable for having been convicted of an aggravated felony as defined in 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43)(G). Petitioner filed a motion to terminate his removal proceedings. Petitioner argued that his conviction did not categorically qualify as an aggravated felony. An IJ denied the motion, holding that Section 3925(a) “on its face” requires proof of “a defendant’s knowledge or belief, and that belief is not objective” and that the statute thus satisfied the generic mens rea requirement. Petitioner sought relief from an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirming a decision by an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) finding that he is removable.
The Fifth Circuit denied the petition. The court found that Petitioner’s conviction under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 3925(a) constitutes receipt of stolen property and thus is an aggravated felony for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). The court explained that the Third Circuit has held that Pennsylvania’s receipt of stolen property offense does not have an objective element and is “purely subjective.” The Third Circuit has considered variations on Petitioner’s argument and has rejected them. The court, therefore, concluded that 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 3925(a) is a categorical theft offense and thus qualifies as an “aggravated felony.”