Pauline Sagoe v. Jefferson B. Sessions III

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 16-4212 ___________________________ Pauline Sagoe lllllllllllllllllllllPetitioner v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General of the United States lllllllllllllllllllllRespondent ____________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals ____________ Submitted: October 18, 2017 Filed: April 5, 2018 ____________ Before LOKEN, MURPHY, and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges. ____________ LOKEN, Circuit Judge. Pauline Sagoe, a native and citizen of Ghana, entered the United States in May 2000 as the nonimmigrant fiancée of United States citizen Samuel Lassor. Sagoe and Lassor married in July 2000, and she was granted lawful permanent resident status on a conditional basis. In December 2002, Sagoe and Lassor petitioned to remove the conditions. In September 2007, after extensive investigation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied the petition and terminated Sagoe’s permanent resident status, finding that she failed to establish that the marriage was bona fide and not entered into primarily to secure an immigration benefit. See 8 U.S.C. § 1186a(c)(3)(C). DHS then commenced removal proceedings. After an evidentiary hearing, the immigration judge (IJ) upheld the termination of permanent resident status and ordered Sagoe removed. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed. Sagoe petitions for review of the BIA’s final order of removal. We conclude that substantial evidence supports the agency’s decision and therefore deny the petition for review. See Abuya v. Sessions, 873 F.3d 650, 652 (8th Cir. 2017) (standard of review). I. The Statutory Framework. An alien who marries a U.S. citizen may be granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis. 8 U.S.C. §§ 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), 1154(a)(1)(A)(i), 1186a(a)(1). To remove the conditions, the alien and U.S.-citizen spouse must timely file a joint Form I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence. In support, the couple must submit facts and information showing that “the qualifying marriage . . . was not entered into for the purpose of procuring an alien’s admission as an immigrant,” 8 U.S.C. §§ 1186a(c)(1)(A), (d)(1)(A)(i)(III), and must appear for an interview before a DHS officer, § 1186a(c)(1)(B). “If the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that such facts and information are not true, the Secretary . . . shall terminate the permanent resident status of an alien spouse.” § 1186a(c)(3)(C). An alien whose permanent resident status is terminated is deportable. § 1227(a)(1)(D)(i). If the alien spouse seeks review of the Secretary’s determination in removal proceedings, DHS must establish, “by a preponderance of the evidence, that the facts and information described in subsection [§ 1186a(d)(1)] and alleged in the [I-751] petition are not true with respect to the qualifying marriage.” § 1186a(c)(3)(D). To prove that a marriage was entered into to “procur[e] an alien’s admission as an immigrant,” DHS must establish the couple did not intend “to establish a life -2- together at the time they were married.” Abuya, 873 F.3d at 652 (quotation omitted). “Though the couple’s intent at the outset of the marriage is the relevant question, when assessing the couple’s intent, courts look to both the period before and after ...

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