MARICELA LEYVA MARTINEZ, a/k/a Maricela Martinez, a/k/a Maricelo Leyva, Petitioner,
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS III, Respondent. CAPITAL AREA IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS COALITION; MARYLAND OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER; NATIONAL IMMIGRATION PROJECT OF THE NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD; UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CAREY IMMIGRATION CLINIC, Amici Supporting Petitioner.
Argued: December 6, 2017
Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration
Maureen A. Sweeney, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CAREY IMMIGRATION
CLINIC, Baltimore, Maryland; Adina Bassin Appelbaum, CAPITAL
AREA IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS COALITION, Washington, D.C., for
J. Bayram, Office of Immigration Litigation, UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.
C. Planzer, CASTANEDA PLANZER LLC, Salisbury, Maryland, for
A. Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil
Division, M. Jocelyn Lopez Wright, Senior Litigation Counsel,
Office of Immigration Litigation, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF
JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.
Zota, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION PROJECT OF THE NATIONAL LAWYERS
GUILD, Boston, Massachusetts, for Amicus National Immigration
Project of the National Lawyers Guild.
Claudia R. Cubas, CAPITAL AREA IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS
COALITION, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Capital Area
Immigrants' Rights Coalition.
K. Wettstein, MARYLAND OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER,
Rockville, Maryland, for Amicus Maryland Office of the Public
NIEMEYER, TRAXLER, and KEENAN, Circuit Judges.
TRAXLER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Martinez was ordered removed from the United States after the
Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") determined
that Martinez's prior convictions for theft were crimes
involving moral turpitude. Because not all of the offenses
encompassed under the relevant Maryland statute qualify as
crimes involving moral turpitude, we grant Martinez's
petition for review, vacate the BIA's decision, and
remand for consideration of Martinez's application for
cancellation of removal.
Maricela Martinez is a native of Mexico; she entered the
country illegally 20 years ago. She is the mother of four
children, all of whom are citizens of the United States.
Between 2007 and 2016, Martinez was convicted three times in
Maryland for petty theft. One conviction involved theft of
less than $500; the others involved thefts of less than $100
her third conviction, Martinez was arrested and detained by
immigration officials, who sought to deport her because the
convictions amounted to crimes involving moral turpitude
("CIMT") under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).
Although Martinez initially conceded removability, she later
obtained counsel and contended that the theft offenses did
not qualify as CIMTs and that she was entitled to apply for
cancellation of removal.
immigration judge concluded that the theft convictions
qualified as CIMTs and that Martinez therefore was removable
and was not entitled to seek cancellation of removal. The BIA
affirmed, relying on its decision in In re
Diaz-Lizarraga, 26 I&N Dec. 847 (BIA 2016), to