Hatim Zakar v. Jefferson Sessions, III

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION File Name: 18a0314n.06 No. 17-4073 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT FILED Jun 26, 2018 HATIM JAMIL ZAKAR, ) DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk ) Petitioner, ) ) v. ) ON PETITION FOR REVIEW ) FROM THE UNITED STATES JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, Attorney General, ) BOARD OF IMMIGRATION ) APPEALS Respondent. ) ) ) BEFORE: KEITH, ROGERS, and BUSH, Circuit Judges. ROGERS, Circuit Judge. Hatim Zakar was born in Iraq but lawfully admitted to the United States at an early age. He was convicted in a Michigan court of a serious drug offense, for which he served nineteen years in prison. After he was paroled, Zakar stipulated to his removability and was ordered removed. Zakar now seeks to reopen his removal proceedings, arguing that his stipulation to his removability was involuntary and that conditions in Iraq have changed such that there is now a clear probability that he will face persecution because of his Chaldean Christian religion. But due to Zakar’s conviction, we are without jurisdiction to review his challenges to the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) factual findings regarding both his prima facie eligibility for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) and whether country conditions in Iraq had changed. Also, we are precluded from reviewing the BIA’s decision to decline to exercise its sua sponte authority to reopen Zakar’s case. No. 17-4073 Hatim Jamil Zakar v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III Hatim Zakar is a fifty-four-year-old native and citizen of Iraq, who immigrated to the United States in 1970, when he and his parents were granted lawful-permanent-resident status. In 1991, he was convicted in Michigan of conspiring to deliver or manufacture more than 650 grams of cocaine, which at the time carried a mandatory-minimum sentence of life without parole. After a change in the law, Zakar was paroled in 2009, but he attracted the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who alleged that Zakar was removable due to his conviction. Zakar initially stipulated to his removability, but it was not clear whether Zakar feared returning to Iraq: the stipulation said that Zakar had “no fear of returning to [Iraq],” but Zakar’s supplied biographical information said that he had “fear of being harmed and persecuted if returned to Iraq.” The Immigration Judge (“IJ”) therefore did not accept the stipulation and set the case for a master-calendar hearing. Zakar appeared at that hearing without counsel and insisted on being removed from the United States, saying, “I am afraid to go back to Iraq, but your honor, I’ve been locked up [in state prison] 19 years, and I just don’t want to be locked up no more,” and, “I really don’t want to get deported, but like I told you, I just want to get out of jail. And if that’s what it takes, to deport me, then that’s your decision, sir.” The IJ accordingly issued a removal order, to which Zakar waived his appellate rights (apparently at least in part because he ...

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