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Ramirez-Matias v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

February 13, 2015

JUAN RAMIREZ-MATIAS, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent

Page 323

Kevin MacMurray and MacMurray & Associates on brief for petitioner.

Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Leslie McKay, Assistant Director, and Melissa Neiman-Kelting, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, on brief for respondent.

Before Howard, Selya and Thompson, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 324

PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS

SELYA, Circuit Judge.

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction -- and those limits demand strict adherence. As we explain below, the petitioner crosses this jurisdictional line.

The petitioner's claims of error can be divided into two tranches. The first tranche involves an agency decision under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), see Pub. L. No. 105-100, § § 201-204, 111 Stat. 2160, 2196-2201 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 8 U.S.C.) -- a decision that Congress has removed from the jurisdiction of the Article III courts. See 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(B). The second tranche involves claims of error that are unexhausted and, thus, unsuitable for judicial review. See, e.g., Wan v. Holder, 776 F.3d 52, 56, *7 (1st Cir. 2015) [Nos. 13-1893, 14-1285] (explaining that an alien must exhaust all administrative remedies to confer jurisdiction on a federal court).

The facts are straightforward. Petitioner Juan Ramirez-Matias, a Guatemalan national, entered the United States without inspection in 1990 and has remained unlawfully, save for a two-month visit to his homeland. In August of 2008, the Department of Homeland Security commenced removal proceedings against him. See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). The petitioner conceded removability and cross-applied for discretionary relief under NACARA in the form of special rule cancellation of removal or, in the alternative, for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT).

Although the petitioner admitted that he had neither been threatened nor physically harmed while residing in Guatemala, he asserted that he left to escape an ongoing civil war. He claimed to fear returning to Guatemala because his return would bring back negative memories of the war. As an additional ground for relief, he argued that he does not wish to be separated from his children (one of whom is a special needs child) and that, if he takes his children to Guatemala, he will not be able to support them.

The discretionary nature of NACARA relief brought the petitioner's moral character into issue before the immigration judge (IJ). In his testimony, the petitioner was confronted with two earlier domestic violence charges. The first -- for battery -- occurred in 1994; the second -- for assault -- occurred in 2006.

The police report for the first incident states that the petitioner's first wife, displaying visible marks, complained to the responding officers that he had struck her several times in the face. Both the petitioner and his first wife testified before the IJ and contradicted this account.

The 2006 police report states that the police responded to a call reporting a domestic dispute. There, the petitioner's second wife told police that the petitioner had struck her in the face and mouth. She had a bruise on her face and a bleeding cut on her lip consistent with this account. Before the IJ, ...


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