Agustin-Matias v. Garland, No. 21-60288 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Petitioner a native and citizen of Guatemala, petitions for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing his appeal of an immigration judge’s (IJ) denial of his application for cancellation of removal. Petitioner contended that the BIA erred in concluding that he failed to demonstrate that his stepchildren are United States citizens, and thus “qualifying relatives” for purposes of his application, and by improperly reviewing the IJ’s findings of fact de novo. He also asserted that the BIA’s interpretation of 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(b)(1)(D) violates the Fifth Amendment as it has been construed to guarantee equal protection.
The Fifth Circuit denied the petition. The court concluded that Section1229b(b)(1)(D)’s requirement that an alien demonstrate “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a qualifying relative, irrespective of hardship suffered by the alien, passes constitutional muster. In enacting the “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” standard, Congress thus emphasized that an alien must provide evidence of harm to a qualifying relative substantially beyond that which ordinarily would be expected due to the alien’s deportation. The court further explained that Congress’s articulated justification provides a “reasonably conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis” for the hardship requirement, and Petitioner’s argument on this issue lacks merit.