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Lagunas-Salgado v. Holder

October 13, 2009


Petitions for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A90 712 401.

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


Before FLAUM, EVANS, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

The Board of Immigration Appeals and this court have long considered crimes with fraud as an element to be crimes involving moral turpitude. Jesus Lagunas-Salgado was convicted of fraud in connection with identification documents, but he maintains his crime was not one of moral turpitude because he did not defraud the customers who bought false documents from him (they knew they were getting false documents, after all), he made the false Social Security and alien registration cards so that others could find employment, and he was not convicted of presenting the fake papers for use himself. No matter his motives, Lagunas-Salgado still engaged in a crime that involves inherently deceptive conduct as he was convicted of selling fraudulent official documents to other persons. The BIA therefore reasonably determined that he had been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. We also find no merit in the other challenges he raises, so we deny the petition for review.


Jesus Lagunas-Salgado, a Mexican native and citizen, first entered the United States in 1977. He received United States permanent resident status in 1990. He and his wife, also a lawful permanent resident, have three children. Ten years after receiving permanent resident status, Lagunas-Salgado was convicted in federal court of fraud in connection with identification documents in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(2). He received a sentence of five months' imprisonment and two years' probation. In 2003, three years after his conviction, Lagunas-Salgado took a trip to Mexico, and, when he returned, presented himself for inspection to the United States Department of Homeland Security. Early the next year, DHS initiated removal proceedings against him by filing a Notice to Appear that charged he was inadmissible as an alien convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

At a hearing before an immigration judge in December 2005, Lagunas-Salgado denied that he was inadmissible.

DHS then introduced a certified copy of the criminal complaint, judgment of conviction, and waiver of indictment related to his conviction for fraud in connection with identification documents. When Lagunas-Salgado's counsel said he had not had an opportunity to review the documents, the immigration judge continued the case until the afternoon session. At that session, LagunasSalgado's counsel objected to the introduction of the documents on the ground that he had not had ten days to examine them, as he contended local court rules required, and also because he had not had an opportunity to question the DHS agent whose affidavit supported the criminal complaint. The immigration judge admitted the documents after concluding they were certified documents of a United States district court, they were necessary to determine removability, and that LagunasSalgado had not provided any basis to question the truthfulness of the documents. The judge then concluded the documents were sufficient to establish that Lagunas-Salgado had been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Lagunas-Salgado expressed an intent to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility and cancellation of removal, and the judge set deadlines and scheduled a hearing for February 1, 2006. At the hearing, Lagunas-Salgado asked for a continuance because his fingerprint check results had not yet returned. The judge declined, saying a final ruling could be postponed pending those results if he were inclined to grant relief.

A merits hearing then took place. Lagunas-Salgado testified that he had been convicted in 2000 after he sold fraudulent alien registration cards ("green cards") and Social Security cards. He testified that his brother made false documents in Lagunas-Salgado's basement before his brother's death in October 1996. Then, LagunasSalgado explained: "After my brother died, he left some stuff in there. So I just went through because people will come to look for him to make some of the false papers. So I start doing it, but not for the money, more to help the people-to help people." On cross examination, he acknowledged that while sometimes he did not charge for the papers, he at other times charged anywhere from $20 to $100 for the false documents. He also acknowledged that he had made documents for approximately 50 people before his arrest. He testified that he now realized what he had done was wrong and that he would not do it again.

Several of Lagunas-Salgado's family members also testified at the hearing. His wife, two of his sons, and the girlfriend of a third son testified that he was a good person who played a critical role in supporting his family, including the children of a son who had been deported to Mexico.

The immigration judge found Lagunas-Salgado removable as charged and denied his requests for cancellation of removal and waiver of inadmissibility. The judge concluded that the factors in Lagunas-Salgado's favor, including his employment history, family ties, and length of permanent residence, did not outweigh the length of time he had been involved in criminal activity and the number of documents he had fraudulently produced and sold. With respect to the waiver request, the judge ruled that Lagunas-Salgado had not established that his removal would result in extreme hardship to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.

Lagunas-Salgado appealed to the BIA. The BIA rejected his arguments, including his argument that his conviction for fraud with identification documents was not a crime involving moral turpitude. The BIA also denied his subsequent motion for ...

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