Cite as 25 I&N Dec. 596 (BIA 2011) Interim Decision #3727
Matter of Antonio FIGUEROA, Respondent
Decided September 14, 2011
U.S. Department of Justice
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Board of Immigration Appeals
When an application for Temporary Protected Status that has been denied by the
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is renewed in removal
proceedings, the Immigration Judge may consider any material and relevant evidence,
regardless of whether the evidence was previously considered in proceedings before the
FOR RESPONDENT: Anne E. Doebler, Buffalo, New York
FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Steven J. Connelly, Assistant
BEFORE: Board Panel: MILLER, ADKINS-BLANCH, and GUENDELSBERGER, Board
ADKINS-BLANCH, Board Member:
In a decision dated May 21, 2009, an Immigration Judge denied the
respondent’s application for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) under
section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1254a (2006),
but granted his request for voluntary departure. The respondent has appealed
from that decision. The record will be remanded to the Immigration Judge.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The respondent, a native and citizen of El Salvador, filed multiple
applications for TPS with the United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services (“USCIS”), the earliest of which was filed on or about May 21, 2001.
The USCIS denied the applications based on the respondent’s failure to submit
evidence sufficient to establish his continuous residence in the United States
since February 13, 2001. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”)
served the respondent with a Notice to Appear (Form I-862) on or about
September 11, 2007.
In removal proceedings, the respondent renewed his TPS application and
submitted a new Form I-821 (Application for Temporary Protected Status).
The DHS provided all the documents associated with the TPS proceedingsCite as 25 I&N Dec. 596 (BIA 2011) Interim Decision #3727
before the USCIS. The respondent offered his own testimony, as well
as testimony from three brothers and a brother-in-law. Prior to the testimony,
counsel for the DHS questioned whether the Immigration Judge could consider
new witness testimony on a renewed TPS application. He asked that the
testimony be given limited weight but made no objection.
After the hearing, the Immigration Judge advised the parties that some
of the testimony did not record, and he reset the matter for the witnesses
to return. Shortly thereafter, the complete tapes were located, and without
taking further testimony, the Immigration Judge issued a written decision
on May 21, 2009. In his decision, the Immigration Judge found that the
respondent had not presented documentary evidence or testimony sufficient
to establish continuous residence in the United States since February 13, 2001.
On appeal, the respondent asserts that the evidence is sufficient to find the
required continuous residence. He requests that if we do not agree, we should
find the record to be incomplete and remand for further proceedings, noting
that although the Immigration Judge’s decision refers to testimony from each
of the four witnesses for the respondent, the transcript that was sent to the
parties and was associated with the record is missing the testimony from two
of them. In response, the DHS indicates that it does not oppose a remand for
the purpose of securing the entire transcript. However, the DHS asks that
we make a preliminary determination “as to whether it is proper for the
respondent to be relying on witness testimony in the renewal of his denied
TPS application before the Court, as those witnesses served no part in the
previously denied application.”
The issue before us is whether an Immigration Judge who adjudicates
an application for TPS that has been renewed in removal proceedings may
consider evidence that was not of record in the proceedings before the USCIS.
We review this question of law de novo. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(d)(3)(ii) (2011).
Generally, to be eligible for TPS, an alien must be a national of a foreign
state designated for TPS who (1) meets specific continuous physical presence
and continuous residence requirements, (2) is not otherwise inadmissible
or ineligible for such status, and (3) registers for such status as required
by statute and the regulations. Sections 244(c)(1), (2) of the Act; 8 C.F.R.
§§ 244.2, 1244.2 (2011). In particular, a national of El Salvador, such
as the respondent, must demonstrate continuous physical presence in the
United States since March 9, 2001, as well as continuous residenceCite as 25 I&N Dec. 596 (BIA 2011) Interim Decision #3727
1 An Immigration Judge may be the initial adjudicator of a TPS application in limited
circumstances not applicable here. See Matter of Lopez-Aldana, 25 I&N Dec. 49, 51 n.1
(BIA 2009), and the regulations cited therein.
since February 13, 2001. See Designation of El Salvador Under Temporary
Protected Status Program, 66 Fed. Reg. 14,214 (Mar. 9, 2001).
Typically, an application for TPS is filed with the USCIS.1
See 8 C.F.R.
§§ 244.6, 244.7, 244.9, 1244.6, 1244.7, 1244.9 (2011). If an adverse decision
results in the issuance of a charging document, the notice of the decision must
also advise the applicant of his right to a de novo determination of eligibility
for TPS in subsequent proceedings before an Immigration Judge. 8 C.F.R.
§§ 244.10(c)(2), (d)(1), 244.14(b)(3), (c), 1244.10(c)(2), (d)(1), 1244.14(b)(3),
(c) (2011). If a charging document is served on the alien with a notice
of an adverse decision, the alien may renew the application for TPS
in removal proceedings. 8 C.F.R. §§ 244.11, 1244.11 (2011); see also section
244(b)(5)(B) of the Act (stating that the administrative procedure for the
review of the denial of TPS shall not prevent an alien from asserting TPS
protection in removal proceedings).
Construing the applicable statutes and regulations, we have previously
held that a TPS applicant may seek de novo review of his application by
an Immigration Judge in removal proceedings. See Matter of Lopez-Aldana,
25 I&N Dec. 49 (BIA 2009); Matter of Barrientos, 24 I&N Dec. 100 (BIA
2007). We now hold that an Immigration Judge may consider any material and
relevant evidence when adjudicating a renewed application for TPS, regardless
of whether the evidence was previously considered in proceedings before the
When interpreting statutes and regulations, we look first to the plain
meaning of the language and are required to give effect to unambiguously
expressed intent. Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467
U.S. 837, 842-43 (1984); Matter of F-P-R-, 24 I&N Dec. 681, 683 (BIA 2008).
Executive intent is presumed to be expressed by the ordinary meaning
of the words used. Matter of F-P-R-, 24 I&N Dec. at 683; see also INS
v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421, 431 (1987). We also construe a statute
or regulation to give effect to all of its provisions. Matter of E-L-H-, 23 I&N
Dec. 814, 823 (BIA 2005); Matter of Masri, 22 I&N Dec. 1145, 1148 (BIA
We find no language in the applicable statute or regulations that restricts
the evidence the Immigration Judge may consider when adjudicating
a renewed application for TPS. Section 244(b)(5)(B) of the Act; 8 C.F.R.
§§ 244.11, 1244.11. Moreover, we find no support elsewhere in the law
or other regulations for such restriction. In fact, Immigration Judges, who
exercise the powers and duties delegated by the Attorney General of theCite as 25 I&N Dec. 596 (BIA 2011) Interim Decision #3727
2 We reached a similar conclusion in Matter of Herrera del Orden, 25 I&N Dec. 589 (BIA
2011) (involving the renewal in removal proceedings of the DHS’s denial of a waiver of the
joint filing requirement for a petition to remove the conditional basis of lawful permanent
United States, have broad authority over the manner in which they conduct
proceedings. In deciding individual cases, an Immigration Judge must
exercise his or her independent judgment and discretion and may take any
action consistent with the Act and regulations that is appropriate and necessary
for the disposition of such cases. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.10(b) (2011). In particular,
an Immigration Judge conducting removal proceedings has the authority
to receive and consider material and relevant evidence, question the alien and
any other witnesses, and generally take any action consistent with applicable
law and regulations as may be appropriate. Section 240(b)(1) of the Act,
8 U.S.C. § 1229a(b)(1) (2006); 8 C.F.R. §§ 1003.10(b), 1240.1(a)(1)(iv), (c)
We have held that when an application for TPS that has been denied by the
USCIS is renewed in removal proceedings, an Immigration Judge may, in the
appropriate circumstances, require the DHS to provide the application that the
applicant filed with the USCIS. Matter of Henriquez Rivera, 25 I&N Dec.
575 (BIA 2011). In that case, we stated that such a policy ensures that,
at a minimum, the Immigration Judge has all the documents considered
by the USCIS. Id. at 578. However, we did not explicitly or implicitly limit
the Immigration Judge’s consideration to only those documents; in fact, our
decision contemplated the situation where, as here, the respondent provides
a new or amended application. Id. Similarly, our previous precedents
addressing the TPS issue have specified that the respondent receives de novo
consideration of his TPS application by the Immigration Judge. See Matter
of Lopez-Aldana, 25 I&N Dec. at 51; Matter of Barrientos, 24 I&N Dec.
at 102. To limit the evidence before the Immigration Judge to that which was
previously considered by the USCIS would result in de facto appellate review
of the USCIS decision, which is inconsistent with the law and regulations
as we have construed them.2
In addition to the powers and duties of the Immigration Judge, we must also
consider the rights and burdens of the respondent. A respondent in removal
proceedings has the statutory right to a reasonable opportunity to present
evidence on his or her own behalf. Section 240(b)(4)(B) of the Act;
see also C.F.R. § 1240.10(a)(4) (2011). It is also an alien’s burden to prove
eligibility for any requested relief from removal. Section 240(c)(4)(A)
of the Act; 8 C.F.R. § 1240.8(d) (2011). Absent some specific provision that
prohibits the introduction of new evidence before the Immigration Judge,
we decline to potentially impair a respondent’s ability to satisfy this burdenCite as 25 I&N Dec. 596 (BIA 2011) Interim Decision #3727
3 We would reach the same conclusion were the DHS seeking to present evidence in removal
proceedings that was not before the USCIS.
of proof by limiting the right to present evidence on his or her behalf
in support of a renewed TPS application.3
In this case, the USCIS denied the respondent’s application for TPS.
He renewed that application in removal proceedings before the Immigration
Judge, submitting additional evidence in the form of witness testimony
relevant to his burden to prove his continuous residence in the United States
since February 13, 2001. We conclude that the Immigration Judge may
properly consider that testimony in adjudicating the respondent’s TPS
application. However, notwithstanding the Immigration Judge’s summary
of the witness testimony in the decision on appeal, the record shows that the
testimony from two of the witnesses has not been transcribed. We therefore
agree with the respondent that a remand is required.
An Immigration Judge who adjudicates a renewed application for TPS
in removal proceedings may consider any material and relevant evidence,
whether or not it was previously before the USCIS. Because the transcript
of proceedings before the Immigration Judge in this case is incomplete,
a remand is required to secure the missing testimony, which may include
holding a new hearing, if necessary. Accordingly, the record will be remanded
to the Immigration Judge.
ORDER: The record is remanded to the Immigration Judge for further
proceedings consistent with the foregoing opinion and for the entry of a new