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Khan v. Mukasey

February 25, 2008


Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A76-720-273.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kanne, Circuit Judge.


Before BAUER, RIPPLE, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

Mohammad Azam Khan, a native and citizen of Pakistan, petitions for review of a final order of removal issued by an Immigration Judge (IJ) and affirmed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The IJ found Khan removable because of his bank-fraud conviction, and then denied Khan's request for a discretionary waiver of inadmissibility, see 8 U.S.C. § 1182(h), and his application for an adjustment of status under the Immigration and Nationality Act, see 8 U.S.C. § 1255. Because Khan's petition does not raise any viable constitutional claim or question of law, we conclude that we lack jurisdiction.


Khan first entered the United States on a non-immigrant student visa in September 1991. In 1997, Khan and his college roommate knowingly executed a bank-fraud scheme; Khan was convicted after pleading guilty to one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1344, an offense punishable by up to thirty years' imprisonment. Khan was sentenced to six months' imprisonment with credit for time served, and to five years' probation.

In July 1998, the government initiated removal proceedings against Khan because, among other things, he had been convicted of bank fraud-a crime of moral turpitude for which a sentence of one year or longer might be imposed-and he had committed the bank fraud within five years after his admission to the country. See 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i). Khan retained the services of Opeolu Banwo, an attorney licensed in New York, to assist him during these removal proceedings.

During a series of telephonic hearings before the IJ from late 1998 until October 1999, Khan, through his counsel Banwo, admitted all of the government's allegations and conceded his removability. Khan expressed his intention to apply for asylum because he claimed that his freedom would be threatened if he were deported to Pakistan. See 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A). At the end of the October 1999 hearing, the IJ scheduled another telephonic hearing for 1:00 p.m. on February 10, 2000, to consider Khan's forthcoming application for asylum.

Shortly after the October 1999 hearing, Khan filed an application for asylum in which he claimed that he was a homosexual and would be persecuted in Pakistan because "according to Islamic laws in Pakistan, there is zero tolerance for homosexuality." Khan claims that he filed this application because Banwo told him that it was the only way that Khan could avoid deportation. Khan signed the application form, certifying under penalty of perjury that all information provided in the application was accurate.

Between October 1999 and February 10, 2000, a notice was mailed to Banwo that the time of Khan's February 10 hearing had been changed from 1:00 p.m. to 10:30 a.m. However, Khan never received notice of this time change. On the morning of February 10, Khan did not arrive for his telephonic hearing. Instead, Banwo appeared on behalf of Khan and moved to withdraw as counsel because, Banwo claimed, he had been unable to contact Khan for several months. As a result of Khan's failure to appear, the IJ granted Banwo's motion to withdraw and ordered Khan removed in absentia. See 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(b)(5)(A).

In late July 2000, Khan filed a letter with the immigration court, which the IJ treated as a pro se motion to reopen his case. Khan's letter stated that he failed to appear at the February 10 hearing because he lacked notice of the time change. The letter claimed that in addition to being Banwo's client, Khan had been employed by Banwo in 1999; their employment relationship came to an abrupt and acrimonious end, which Khan insinuated, led Banwo to intentionally withhold the hearing time-change from him and to misrepresent to the court that Khan would not attend his removal hearing. Khan's letter also alleged that he was not a homosexual and had merely handwritten the asylum application as Banwo dictated it to him.

Shortly after filing this letter, Khan retained new counsel, Bart Chavez, who filed a motion notifying the IJ that Khan would be pursuing an alternative ground for reopening his case based on an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim against Banwo. See Matter of Lozada, 19 I. & N. Dec. 637 (BIA 1988). Chavez also sent a letter to Banwo, advising him of Khan's allegations against him. Banwo responded to Chavez by denying all of Khan's allegations. Banwo adamantly denied Khan's suggestion that Banwo had told Khan what to write in his asylum petition and enclosed Khan's handwritten application and supporting affidavits from family members as evidence that Khan had determined what to write on the application without any assistance from Banwo.

In November 2000, the IJ granted Khan's motion to reopen his case. In doing so, the IJ did not rule on Khan's ineffective-assistance-of-counsel argument because Khan's motion did not comply with the formal requirements for making such an argument. See id. Nonetheless, the IJ found that Khan did not have sufficient notice of the February 10 hearing time-change, and granted his motion to reopen.

After the case was reopened, Khan filed a new application for asylum. This time, Khan claimed asylum based upon political persecution-the new application contained no reference to homosexuality. Khan's second application also indicated that Khan had married Sandy Amith, a United States citizen, in early January 2001. In late July 2001, Sandy Amith-Khan filed an I-130 petition that sought to have Khan reclassified as a permanent resident alien based upon their marriage. See, e.g., Lino v. Gonzales, 467 F.3d 1077, 1078 (7th Cir. 2006). The IJ continued the case while the I-130 petition was pending, and in April 2002, Amith-Khan's I-130 petition was ...

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