Barton v. Barr

Justia Summary

Over 12 years, Barton a lawful permanent resident, was convicted of state crimes, including a firearms offense, drug offenses, and aggravated assault offenses. An Immigration Judge found him removable under 8 U.S.C. 1229a, based on his firearms and drug offenses. Barton applied for cancellation of removal, for which a lawful permanent resident must have “resided in the United States continuously for 7 years after having been admitted in any status.” The "stop-time rule" provides that a continuous period of residence “shall be deemed to end” when the lawful permanent resident commits “an offense referred to in section 1182(a)(2) . . . that renders the alien inadmissible." Because Barton’s aggravated assaults were committed within his first seven years of admission and were covered by section 1182(a)(2), the Immigration Judge concluded that Barton was not eligible for cancellation of removal. The BIA and the Eleventh Circuit agreed.

The Supreme Court affirmed. For purposes of cancellation-of-removal eligibility, a section 1182(a)(2) offense committed during the initial seven years of residence does not need to be one of the offenses of removal. The cancellation-of-removal statute functions like a traditional recidivist sentencing statute, making a noncitizen’s prior crimes relevant to eligibility for cancellation of removal. Whether the offense that precludes cancellation of removal was charged or could have been charged as one of the offenses of removal is irrelevant.

Barton’s aggravated assault offenses were crimes involving moral turpitude and therefore “referred to in section 1182(a)(2).” He committed the offenses during his initial seven years of residence and was later convicted of the offenses, thereby rendering him “inadmissible.” Barton was, therefore, ineligible for cancellation of removal.