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Matter of Compean

Attorney General of the United States
25 I. & N. Dec. 1 (2009)


Facts

Enrique Salas Compean (plaintiff), a native and citizen of Mexico, unlawfully entered the United States in 1989. In 2004, the federal government initiated removal proceedings against Compean. After the immigration judge ordered him removed and the Board of Immigration (BIA) affirmed the judge’s determination, Compean sought to reopen his case on the ground of ineffective assistance of counsel. Two other removal cases, Matter of Bangaly and Matter of J.E.C., were also requested to be reopened citing ineffective assistance of counsel. BIA decisions are binding on immigration judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(h). On January 7, 2009, Attorney General Mukasey denied reopening of the three cases and vacated the long-standing framework first articulated in Matter of Lozada, 19 I.& N. Dec. 637 (BIA 1988), to determine whether an alien has a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. Instead, Attorney General Mukasey set forth a new substantive and procedural framework even though it conflicted with the Lozada-based approach utilized by the various courts of appeal. Five months after entering office, Attorney General Eric Holder re-examined the new framework established by his predecessor.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Holder, A.G.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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