Although Once Found to be U.S. Citizen, Removal Sticks

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By Bernie Pazanowski

An immigrant once found to be an American citizen still may be removed from the U.S. after he later was found to be a non-citizen, the First Circuit held April 6 ( Miranda v. Sessions , 2017 BL 112071, 1st Cir., No. 16-2174, 4/5/17 ).

The argument that the doctrine of res judicata, under which the first determination of citizenship would stand, was immaterial, the court said in an opinion by Judge Sandra L. Lynch.

The ruling on circumstances described as novel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit gives immigration officials multiple opportunities to prove an immigrant isn’t a U.S. citizen.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, courts don’t have jurisdiction to review a final removal determination by the government. However, courts must first determine citizenship to decide whether that jurisdictional bar applies.

Two Removal Proceedings

Frank Edney Monteiro Miranda pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender, a violation of state law in Massachusetts.

During removal proceedings in 2007, however, the immigration judge decided that Miranda became a U.S. citizen when his mother was naturalized. Federal authorities didn’t challenge that decision.

After Miranda was convicted of a drug felony and went to prison, new removal proceedings were held in 2016.

The second immigration judge ruled that Miranda wasn’t a U.S. citizen and ordered him removed.

The Board of Immigration Appeals, an arm of the Justice Department, dismissed his appeal, and Miranda then moved onto the First Circuit.

He argued that res judicata applied in his case, meaning because it was already decided he was a U.S. citizen, he couldn’t be removed. Before res judicata could apply, he had to prove citizenship, the court said.

But the facts and applicable law actually showed that he wasn’t a citizen, the appeals court said. This finding prevented it from reviewing his removal order and his res judicata argument wasn’t addressed.

Justice David H. Souter and Judge Bobby R. Baldock, sitting by designation, joined the opinion.

Joyce & Associates PC represented Miranda. Department of Justice represented the government.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bna.com

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