Samuel Dacostagomez-Aguilar v. U.S. Attorney General

USCA11 Case: 20-13576 Date Filed: 07/19/2022 Page: 1 of 16 [PUBLISH] In the United States Court of Appeals For the Eleventh Circuit ____________________ No. 20-13576 ____________________ SAMUEL DACOSTAGOMEZ-AGUILAR, Petitioner, versus U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent. ____________________ Petition for Review of a Decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency No. A097-344-614 ____________________ USCA11 Case: 20-13576 Date Filed: 07/19/2022 Page: 2 of 16 2 Opinion of the Court 20-13576 Before BRANCH, GRANT, and BRASHER, Circuit Judges. GRANT, Circuit Judge: Congress has established specific administrative proceedings for deciding whether to remove a person who lacks the right to remain in this country. Skipping those proceedings is no way to avoid removal. To prevent such attempts to circumvent the immigration process, Congress allows immigration judges to order removal “in absentia” after the failure to attend a hearing—so long as the government gave notice of the hearing beforehand. The question we consider is exactly what kind of notice deficiencies must be shown before an in absentia removal order can be challenged. Immigration law is famously complicated, but the answer here turns out to be rather simple. The notice required to render an in absentia removal lawful is the notice for the particular hearing that was missed. And to have a chance to reopen removal proceedings—and thus challenge an in absentia removal order—a movant must show that he failed to receive the notice for the hearing at which he was ordered removed. Contrary to the petitioner’s argument, a defect in an earlier notice does not satisfy this burden. We therefore deny the petition for review. I. In October 2003, 17-year-old Samuel Dacostagomez—along with his mother, little sister, and two young cousins—crawled under a border fence that separated Mexico from Arizona. But USCA11 Case: 20-13576 Date Filed: 07/19/2022 Page: 3 of 16 20-13576 Opinion of the Court 3 they did not make it far; United States Border Patrol agents soon apprehended them walking north along a highway. That same day they handed Dacostagomez a notice to appear. The notice charged him as removable for being present in the country without admission or parole, and ordered him to appear for removal proceedings before the Phoenix Immigration Court at a date and time “to be set.” See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Agents also informed Dacostagomez’s mother that she needed to appear before an immigration court “in a year” and “bring all of the children” with her. When asked where they would be until then, she told them that she and the children would live with her sister in Rock Springs, Georgia. She gave the agents her sister’s address, and the family made its way to Georgia. Within two months, the Phoenix Immigration Court sent a notice to the Rock Springs address setting Dacostagomez’s hearing for November 2004—which would be a little more than a year after his entry into the United States. But nine months before the hearing, Dacostagomez’s family left Rock Springs for his grandmother’s home in Dalton, Georgia. No one informed the immigration court about the move. …

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Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals