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Document Type

Comments

Abstract

On November 20, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Hernandez-Zavala v. Lynch held that adjudicators deciding whether a noncitizen has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i) must apply the circumstance-specific approach to the statute’s domestic relationship requirement. In so doing, the Fourth Circuit carved out an exception to the more protective categorical and modified categorical approaches, which limit the evidence that may be admitted to determine whether a conviction triggers immigration consequences. This Comment argues that the Fourth Circuit erred in extending the circumstance-specific approach to crimes of domestic violence under the Immigration and Nationality Act, given the unique historical legacy of the categorical approach in immigration proceedings and the procedural disadvantages to which noncitizens in removal proceedings are subjected.