Masin-Ventura v. Garland, No. 21-60610 (5th Cir. 2022)

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Justia Opinion Summary

Petitioner was ordered to be removed from the United States in absentia on June 23, 2006. On August 26, 2019, Petitioner, represented by counsel, filed a motion to reopen the removal proceedings and rescind the in-absentia removal order. The immigration judge (“IJ”) denied that motion, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed. Petitioner petitioned the court to review that affirmance, arguing that the BIA erred in determining that she was not entitled to equitable tolling of the statutory deadline for filing a motion to reopen because, although she had shown exceptional circumstances, she had not shown that she had pursued her rights diligently.
 
The Fifth Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition to reopen. The court explained that it has authority to review only the final decision of the BIA unless the underlying decision of the IJ influenced the BIA’s decision. Here, the court explained that even accepting arguendo that Petitioner was prevented from participating in the 2006 proceedings or seeking that they are reopened by her abusive partner and that she was traumatized and unable to seek legal help for some time after escaping the abuse, Petitioner admits that she obtained legal representation—from the very same lawyer representing her here—more than two years before filing her motion to reopen the removal proceedings. Thus, the court cannot conclude that the BIA abused its discretion in finding that Petitioner failed to act with reasonable diligence in pursuing her rights.

Primary Holding
The Fifth Appellate District denied Petitioner's petition for review of her motion to reopen removal proceedings. The court held that it could not find an abuse of discretion.

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