Morales v. Barr, No. 19-1999 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Morales, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without inspection as a child. As an adult shooting victim, he petitioned for U nonimmigrant status, a special visa for victims of certain crimes, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(U). While his petition was pending, he was charged as removable under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i) as a noncitizen present in the U.S. without being admitted and under section 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) for a 2014 conviction for possession of marijuana. Morales cited his pending U visa petition as a defense to removal. The immigration judge agreed to waive both grounds of inadmissibility to allow him to pursue the U visa petition but later ordered Morales removed as charged on those same grounds.
The Seventh Circuit remanded to the BIA. The court rejected an argument that the IJ’s initial waiver of both grounds of inadmissibility precluded their use as grounds for an order of removal; Morales’s position would effectively turn the inadmissibility waiver into a substitute for the U visa itself. Morales had, however, asked the IJ to continue or administratively close his case instead of ordering removal. The IJ entered the removal order based on the conclusion that those alternative procedures were inappropriate, and the BIA affirmed on the same basis. Those alternatives were wrongly rejected.