from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Texas
CLEMENT, ELROD, and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges.
KYLE DUNCAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
United States appeals the district court's dismissal of a
2018 indictment charging Appellee Uvaldo Ramirez-Cortinas
("Ramirez") with illegal reentry in violation of 8
U.S.C. § 1326. We reverse and remand.
is a Mexican citizen who has illegally entered the United
States at least six times since 1998. In 2003, he was
convicted of a felony hit-and-run in Texas. In 2008, after
being charged with sexually abusing his 10-year-old
stepdaughter, he was released on bail but failed to appear.
He was convicted of bail jumping in violation of Texas Penal
Code § 38.10(f) and sentenced to seven years in
prison. After his release in 2012, Ramirez was
issued a Notice to Appear for deportation proceedings. The
notice declared him deportable for two reasons: being
convicted of a "crime involving moral turpitude"
and being "present in the United States without being
admitted or paroled." See 8 U.S.C. §§
1227(a)(1)(B), 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), 1182(a)(6)(A)(i).
began a series of four hearings before two immigration
judges. At the first hearing, in October 2012, Ramirez was
given two months to find counsel. At the second hearing,
without counsel,  Ramirez admitted to the allegations in the
Notice to Appear, and the IJ found him deportable. Ramirez
asked whether there was "some type of relief"
available. The IJ gave him an asylum application-because
Ramirez said he was uncertain whether he would be in danger
in Mexico-and continued the proceedings. At the third
hearing, the IJ scheduled yet another hearing to consider
Ramirez's asylum request.
final hearing was in March 2013. Ramirez informed the IJ he
did not "have all the documents," suggested he
might withdraw his asylum request, and asked if he could
instead have voluntary departure. The IJ stated he would not
grant voluntary departure, and later told Ramirez his bail
jumping conviction was "an aggravated felony" that
made him ineligible for voluntary departure. In light of
this, the IJ asked Ramirez if he wanted "to have [the]
hearing on [his] application for asylum." The IJ
explained that, otherwise, he would order Ramirez deported.
Ramirez sought more time, but the IJ denied that request.
Later in the hearing, when Ramirez again suggested he wanted
to withdraw the asylum request, the IJ declared he was going
to order Ramirez deported. The IJ then asked if Ramirez
wanted to appeal that decision. When Ramirez answered
affirmatively, the IJ said, "Then, sir, we're going
to have a hearing[.]"
proceeded to question Ramirez about his "very
detailed" asylum application. Specifically, the IJ asked
Ramirez if he was "afraid to return to Mexico."
Ramirez answered, "I can't say yes or no." When
asked whether anything violent had happened to him in Mexico,
Ramirez answered "No." Ramirez also stated that
nobody had threatened to harm him or his parents in Mexico.
Ramirez testified only that he was forced to pay bribes to
government officials, and that someone stole his family's
cattle. The IJ subsequently asked Ramirez whether somebody
had beaten him up. Ramirez said it was a group called
"Preventiva, the police," but then explained he did
not "think they . . . still exist." He also
testified he had no problems because of his father's
union activity, although his father may have had some
problems when Ramirez "was a kid." The IJ then
asked whether Ramirez or his family "had any problems in
Mexico because of their religion," which was
Jehovah's Witness. Ramirez responded, "No, not that
I know of." The IJ asked Ramirez one last time,
"[W]hat do you think would happen to you if you return
to Mexico?" Ramirez responded, "I don't
know." Eventually, the IJ informed Ramirez: "[Y]our
feelings about the inadequacy of your application for asylum,
the sufficiency of your application, were good because based
on what you told me, you don't have a claim to asylum or
withholding of removal."
the IJ decided that Ramirez's bail jumping conviction was
an aggravated felony. See generally 8 U.S.C. §
1101(a)(43) (defining "aggravated felony"). That
rendered Ramirez ineligible for asylum and "statutorily
ineligible for withholding of removal under the Immigration
and Nationality Act and under the United Nations Convention
against Torture." This led the IJ to conclude that
Ramirez's "only form of relief . . . would be
deferral of removal based upon his belief that he will be
tortured by the government officials in Mexico" or that
those officials would knowingly allow his torture. But the IJ
found Ramirez had failed to establish any such threat.
Similarly, the IJ explained that "even if [Ramirez] was
eligible for asylum or withholding, he would still be found
to have failed to establish his burden because he does not
establish past persecution or future persecution, and a
reasonable person in his circumstance would not fear
persecution or torture." Finally, the IJ explained that,
even "had [Ramirez] been currently eligible for
voluntary departure, [the IJ] would have denied voluntary
departure as a matter of discretion because of
[Ramirez's] criminal record, which is a serious one
involving two felony offenses."
appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals
("BIA"), arguing the IJ erred in finding he had
been convicted of an aggravated felony. The BIA dismissed
Ramirez's appeal in a written decision. The BIA agreed
with the IJ that Ramirez's bail jumping conviction was
"both an aggravated felony and a particularly serious
crime," rendering him ineligible for asylum, withholding
of removal, and voluntary departure. The BIA incorrectly
stated, however, that Ramirez did not dispute on appeal that
he had been convicted of "an offense that is an
aggravated felony and also a particularly serious
crime." Finally, the BIA agreed with the IJ that Ramirez
failed to show he would likely be tortured by, or at the
behest of, Mexican officials.
denied relief on July 24, 2013, and mailed its decision the
same day. Ramirez was deported to Mexico a week later, on
August 2, 2013. For reasons unexplained in the record, the
BIA's decision was not received at the immigration court
adjacent to the facility where Ramirez had been detained