Submitted Jan. 17, 2014.[*]
Jose A. Bracamonte, Law Office of Jose A. Bracamonte, Phoenix, AZ, for Petitioner.
Tony West, Assistant Attorney General, Thomas B. Fatouros, Senior Litigation Counsel, and Julie M. Iversen, Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.
On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Agency No. A093-198-458.
Before: DIARMUID F. O'SCANNLAIN, SUSAN P. GRABER, and JACQUELINE H. NGUYEN, Circuit Judges.
GRABER, Circuit Judge:
Petitioner Manuel Chavez-Reyes petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (" BIA" ) dismissal of his appeal from an immigration judge's (" IJ" ) entry of a final order of removal. The BIA held that Petitioner was removable pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(C)(i) because there was " reason to believe" that he " is or has been an illicit trafficker" in a controlled substance or knowingly has assisted others in trafficking. Because the BIA did not violate due process or otherwise err, we deny the petition.
In 1989, Petitioner was the driver and sole occupant of a truck containing almost 900 pounds of cocaine valued at $28.7 million, in a hidden compartment. Police officers pulled the truck over, found the drugs, and arrested Petitioner. He pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1). But we overturned that conviction on appeal on the ground that the officers lacked sufficient suspicion to make a traffic stop. United States v. Chavez-Reyes, 921 F.2d 281 (9th Cir.1990) (unpublished decision).
In the immigration proceedings on review, the government charged Petitioner with removability under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(C)(i). Unlike many immigration statutes, which require a criminal conviction before imposing immigration consequences,§ 1182(a)(2)(C)(i) requires only a " reason to believe" that Petitioner engaged or assisted in illicit trafficking of drugs. Lopez-Molina v. Ashcroft, 368 F.3d 1206, 1208-09 (9th Cir.2004).
Here, the BIA held that there was " reason to believe" that Petitioner had engaged or assisted in illicit trafficking for two primary reasons. First, the BIA held that the circumstantial evidence strongly suggested that Petitioner knew that the drugs were in the truck. The BIA reasoned that the amount of cocaine was " too large for personal use, and the quantity and high value of the cocaine suggests that [Petitioner] was either a drug trafficker himself, or was trusted by the drug traffickers and that he knew that the drugs
were in the vehicle." Second, the BIA held that Petitioner's guilty plea also supported its conclusion. The BIA reasoned that, although Petitioner's conviction " was subsequently overturned due to a finding that the agents lacked legal reasonable cause to stop the truck [Petitioner] was driving, this does not change the fact that [Petitioner] pled guilty to engaging in drug trafficking."
Petitioner argues that the BIA violated his due process rights by considering his guilty plea, because the resulting conviction was overturned on appeal. We have jurisdiction over this constitutional claim. Rojas v. Holder, 704 F.3d 792, 794 (9th Cir.2012). We review de novo whether the BIA violated due process. Ramirez-Alejandre v. Ashcroft, 319 F.3d 365, 377 (9th Cir.2003) (en banc). We must determine whether " the proceeding was so fundamentally unfair that [Petitioner] was prevented from reasonably presenting his ...