“IMMIGRATION COURTS — RECLAIMING THE VISION” — Read My Article In The Latest Federal Bar News!

Here is the link:

immigration courts

And, here’s an excerpt:

“Our immigration courts are going through an existential crisis that threatens the very foundations of our American justice system. I have often spoken about my dismay that the noble due process vision of our immigration courts has been derailed. What can be done to get it back on track?

First, and foremost, the immigration courts must return to the focus on due process as the one and only mission. The improper use of our due process court system by political officials to advance enforcement priorities and/or send “don’t come” messages to asylum seekers, which are highly ineffective in any event, must end. That’s unlikely to happen under the Department of Justice—as proved by over three decades of history, particularly recent history. It will take some type of independent court. I think that an Article I Immigration Court, which has been supported by groups such as the American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, would be best.

Clearly, the due process focus has been lost when officials outside the Executive Office for Immigration Review have forced ill-advised “prioritization” and attempts to “expedite” the cases of frightened women and children from the Northern Triangle (the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) who require lawyers to gain the protection that most of them need and deserve. Putting these cases in front of other pending cases is not only unfair to all, but has created what I call “aimless docket reshuffling” that has thrown our system into chaos.

Evidently, the idea of the prioritization was to remove most of those recently crossing the border to seek protection, thereby sending a “don’t come, we don’t want you” message to asylum seekers. But, as a deterrent, this program has been spectacularly unsuccessful. Not surprisingly to me, individuals fleeing for their lives from the Northern Triangle have continued to seek refuge in the United States in large numbers. Immigration court backlogs have continued to grow across the board, notwithstanding an actual reduction in overall case receipts and an increase in the number of authorized immigration judges.”

I encourage you to read the entire article.

Additionally, this entire issue of The Federal Lawyer is devoted to Immigration Law. Kudos to Judge Lawrence O. Burman of the Arlington Immigration Court and Judge Robin Feder of the Boston Immigration court for their key roles in FBA leadership and for inspiring this effort. There are four other great articles that will help you understand what is happening today in this most important area. Check them all out at this link:

http://www.fedbar.org/magazine.html

Finally, if you aren’t currently a member of the Federal Bar Association (“FBA”), please join the FBA and the Immigration Section today! The price is very reasonable, you get access to The Green Card (the Immigration Section newsletter, Edited by Judge Burman) and some other great educational materials, and you support the effort for due process, collegiality, and badly needed U.S. Immigration Court Reform, which the FBA advocates. The current “powers that be” are not going to fix the broken U.S. Immigration Court System without outside involvement and, ultimately, Congressional action. This won’t happen by itself.  So, if like me, you are appalled and dismayed by what has happened to due process in our U.S. Immigration Court system, now is the time to get involved and work to change it!

Also, check out my previous blogs on the recent FBA Immigration Seminar in Denver.

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-O1

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PWS

06-05-17

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCING NEW COMMENTATOR — Hon. Jeffrey Chase — “Matter Of L-E-A: The BIA’s Missed Chance” — Original For immigrationcourtside!

Hi immigrationcourtside.com readers:

I am delighted to provide an original article by my good friend and colleague the Honorable Jeffrey Chase, who recently joined us in the ranks of the “retired but still engaged.” Judge Chase is a former U.S. Immigration Judge in New York, a former Senior Attorney Adviser at the BIA, and a former sole immigration practitioner in New York. He’s also a gentleman, a scholar, and an immigration historian. In a subsequent post I’ll be providing some links to parts of the “Chase Immigration History Library” which has previously been published by our friend and former colleague Judge Lawrence O. Burman in the FBA’s The Green Card.

Welcome to retirement and to immigrationcourtside, Judge Chase! We live in interesting times. Enjoy the ride.

Now, for your reading pleasure, here’s the complete original version of Judge Chase’s article about a recent BIA precedent.  Enjoy it!

Matter of L-E-A-

Matter of L-E-A-: The BIA’s Missed Opportunity

 

Jeffrey S. Chase

 

On May 24, the Board of Immigration Appeals published its long-anticipated precedent addressing family as a particular social group, Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 40 (BIA 2017). Thirteen amicus briefs were received by the Board addressing the issue of whether a “double nexus” is required in claims based on the particular social group of family.   The good news is that the Board did not create a “double nexus” requirement for family-based PSG claims. In other words, the decision does not require an asylum applicant to prove both their inclusion in the social group of X’s family, and then also establish that X’s own fear is on account of a separate protected ground.

 

Nevertheless, the resulting decision was highly unsatisfying. The Board was provided a golden opportunity to adopt the interpretation of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which has held persecution to be “on account of” one’s membership in the particular social group consisting of family where the applicant would not have been targeted if not for their familial relationship. Such approach clearly satisfies the statutory requirement that the membership in the particular social group be “at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.” If the asylum seeker would not have been targeted if not for the familial relationship, how could such relationship not be at least one central reason for the harm? L-E-A- rejected this interpretation, and instead adopted a much more restrictive “means to an end” test. Under L-E-A-, even though the respondent would not be targeted but for her familial relationship to her murdered husband, she would not be found to have established a nexus because the gangsters she fears do not wish to harm her because of an independent animus against her husband’s family. Rather, targeting her would be a means to the end of self-preservation by attempting to silencing her to avoid their own criminal prosecution.

 

Under the fact patterns we commonly see from Mexico and the “northern triangle” countries of Central America, claims based on family as a particular social group will continue to be denied, as such fears will inevitably be deemed to be a means to some criminal motive of gangs and cartels (i.e. to obtain money through extortion or as ransom; to increase their ranks; to avoid arrest) as opposed to a desire to punish the family itself. Applying the same logic to political opinion, a popular political opponent of a brutal dictator could be denied asylum, as the dictator’s real motive in seeking to imprison or kill the political opponent could be viewed as self-preservation (i.e. avoiding losing power in a free and fair election, and then being imprisoned and tried for human rights violations), as opposed to a true desire to overcome the applicant’s actual opinions on philosophical grounds.

 

Sadly, the approach of L-E-A- is consistent with that employed in a line of claims based on political opinion 20 years ago (see Matter of C-A-L-, 21 I&N Dec. 754 (BIA 1997); Matter of T-M-B-, 21 I&N Dec. 775 (BIA 1997); Matter of V-T-S-, 21 I&N Dec. 792 (BIA 1997)) in which attempted guerrilla recruitment, kidnaping, and criminal extortion carried out by armed political groups were not recognized as persecution where the perpetrator’s motive was to further a goal of his/her political organization as opposed to punishing the asylum applicant because of his/her own political opinion.

 

Nearly a decade earlier, an extreme application of this “logic” resulted in the most absurd Board result of to date. In Matter of Maldonado-Cruz, 19 I&N Dec. 509 (BIA 1988), the Board actually held that a deserter from an illegal guerrilla army’s fear of being executed by a death squad lacked a nexus to a protected ground, because the employment of death squads by said illegal guerrilla army was “part of a military policy of that group, inherent in the nature of the organization, and a tool of discipline,” (to quote from the headnotes). After three decades of following the course of such clearly result-oriented decision making, the Board missed an opportunity to right its course.

 

The author formerly served as an immigration judge, and as a staff attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals.

****************************************************************

I agree with Judge Chase that this is a missed opportunity that will come back to haunt all of us. A correct decision would have allowed many of the Central American asylum seekers clogging the court system at all levels to be granted needed protection, either at the USCIS or in court. Here is a link to my prior blog and “alternative analysis” of L-E-A-.

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Sh

Instead, I predict that some of these cases could still be “kicking around the system” somewhere a decade from now, unless some drastic changes are made. And the type of positive, due process, fairness, and protection oriented changes needed are not going to happen under the Trump Administration. So, the battles will be fought out in the higher courts.

Although the BIA did it’s best to obfuscate, it’s prior precedent in Matter of J-B-N- & S-M-, 24 I&N Dec. 208 (BIA 2007) basically established a “common sense/but for” test for one central reason. In a mixed motive case, if the persecution would have occurred notwithstanding the protected ground, then it is tangental, incidental, and not “at least one central reason.” On the other hand, if “but for” the protected ground the perseuction would not have occurred, that ground is at least “one central reason” of the persecution.

In L-E-A- the respondent would not have suffered threats and attempts to kidnap him  “but for” his membership in the family. Hence family clearly is “at least one central reason” for the persecution. That’s basically the test the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals would apply.

It’s a fairly straightforward case. The respondent in L-E-A- satisfies the refugee definition. In fact, the serious threats delivered by a gang which clearly has the ability and the means to carry them out amounts to past persecution. Hence, the respondent is entitled to the rebuttable presumption of future persecution.

Instead of properly applying its own precedents and reaching the correct result, the BIA launches into paragraphs of legal gobbledygook designed to mask what’s really going on here: manipulating the law and the facts to deny protection to Central American refugees whenever possible.

I know, this respondent is from Mexico; but, the BIA’s intended target obviously is Northern Triangle gang-based asylum claims. This precedent gives the Immigration Judges and Asylum Officers lots of “hooks” to deny claims by women and children fleeing family-targeted gang violence.

And, it insures that nobody without a really good lawyer and the ability to litigate up to Courts of Appeals if necessary even has a chance. The BIA is certainly well aware that the Trump Administration is pulling out all the stops to effectively deny counsel to arriving asylum seekers by a combination of using expedited removal, increasing negative credible fear determinations, and detaining everyone in out of the way locations where conditions are discouraging and pro bono counsel are not readily available.

Yeah, I don’t suppose any of this is going to bother Trump Administration officials any more than it did the BIA’s DOJ bosses during the Bush and Obama Administrations. Some negative case precedents on repetitive Central American claims proved mighty handy in border enforcement efforts and “don’t come, you’ve got no chance” publicity campaigns. The only problem is the it twists protection law out of shape.

Finally, let the record reflect that I lodged a dissent in Matter of C-A-L-, 21 I&N Dec. 754 (BIA 1997); Matter of T-M-B-, 21 I&N Dec. 775 (BIA 1997); and Matter of V-T-S-, 21 I&N Dec. 792 (BIA 1997), wrongly decided BIA precedent cases cited by Judge Chase. Indeed, Matter of T-M-B- eventually was reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Borja v. INS, 175 F.3d 332  (9th cir. 1999), something which many BIA Appellate Judges only grudgingly acknowledged in later cases.

So, it will be left for the Courts of Appeals to straighten out nexus in the family context. Or not.

Again, welcome Judge Chase.  Look forward to hearing more from you.

PWS

06-03-17

 

THE HUMAN TOLL OF IMMIGRATION DETENTION: Mother Attempts Suicide After 6 Months In Texas “Family Detention Centers!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mother-family-detention-suicide-attempt_us_59271267e4b062f96a34da5c?45b

Roque Planas reports in HuffPost:

“AUSTIN, Texas ― A woman locked at a family immigrant detention center tried to take her own life this month in what legal advocates described as a desperate effort to free her two kids.

Samira Hakimi, an Afghan national, has spent the last six months detained with her two young children despite a federal ruling that dictates they should have been released within three weeks. The case reinforces the longstanding concerns of immigrant rights groups that say asylum-seeking families should not be forced into prolonged detention.

“They told us you will only be a couple of days in there,” Hakimi told HuffPost. “I never thought that I would be detained here for such a long time. That I’m detained here because I’m from Afghanistan and that’s all. But I’m human.”

In Afghanistan, the Hakimi family had established a high school and multi-branch private university that used Western curricula, taught in both English and Dari and offered more than half its scholarships to women, according to lawyers representing Hakimi and her husband.

Since 2013, the Taliban repeatedly threatened the family for its work. To avoid the danger of commuting, the family moved onto the university campus and contracted private security guards that year.

It wasn’t enough for them to feel safe. “We could not go outside,” Hakimi said. “My children could not go to school. We thought they might be kidnapped. This was always in our minds…. They have their lives to live. They should live happy and free from every small thing, going to school and enjoying their lives.”

Last year, they fled Afghanistan with Hakimi’s brother-in-law and his pregnant wife, who were facing similar threats.

In December, the two families crossed into the United States from Mexico through a legal port of entry, where they all asked for asylum. The men were separated and sent to all-male immigrant detention centers, where they remain. Hakimi and her kids, as well as her sister-in-law and her newborn baby, were sent to the South Texas Family Detention Center in the town of Dilley and later transferred to the Karnes County Residential Center outside San Antonio.

Hakimi passed her “credible fear” interview ― the first step toward applying for asylum. It’s common practice for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to free people who pass these interviews so they can pursue their cases in immigration court, but ICE declined to release her and her children. The agency did not respond to a request for comment explaining why it refuses to release them. Hakimi’s sister-in-law is also still at Karnes with her 10-month-old baby.
DREW ANTHONY SMITH VIA GETTY IMAGES
The Karnes County Residential Center houses mothers who enter the United States with their children. Most of them seek asylum or other forms of humanitarian exemption from deportation.
Hakimi told HuffPost she had suffered from bouts of clinical depression before being detained. Advocates with RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal services to detained families, say she had attempted suicide in the past and told medical workers at Karnes that her condition had worsened as her case appeared to stall. Neither medicine nor therapy would alleviate the problem, she argued. Her depression stemmed from remaining locked up in the detention center with her children.

As the months dragged on, she lost hope. “Here, no one talks to us,” Hakimi said. “They don’t give us the reason why I’m detained in here. I never thought that I would be detained here for such a long time.”

Her son came to her one day asking her why other families were allowed to leave but not them. “That was really triggering her,” Amy Fisher, RAICES’s policy director, told HuffPost. “She was crying and really depressed. And she went into this thought process, when she was really low, thinking, ‘Well, if I’m no longer here, maybe my children can be free.’” Kids cannot be held without their parents or guardians in family detention.

After she made an effort to take her own life, she woke up in the medical unit of the detention center and was taken to a nearby hospital, where two members of the detention center staff sat with her continuously.

“I told them, ‘I’m just crying for my children, please,’” she said in a recording with one of her legal providers. “I’m not sick. But they gave me medicine. And they told me take this every four hours, but I didn’t take it anymore.”

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Read the full story at the link.

Don’t think that a few (or even many) attempted suicides or preventable deaths in immigration detention are going to change the Administration’s plans to establish an “American Gulag.” After all, what better “deterrent” than death to put a dent in migration.

No, the only thing that might get in the way is if Democrats start winning elections and wielding some political power in Washington. (Not that Democrats have been particularly enlightened when it comes to immigration detention, either. After all, Dilley, Karnes, Berks County, and other “family residential prisons” were Obama initiatives. But, that’s another story.)

But, as I just pointed out in an earlier blog, Dems appear lost in the political wilderness with no path out.

PWS

05-26-16

 

NEW PRECEDENT: Family Is A PSG, But Beware Of Nexus — Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 40 (BIA 2017) — Read My “Alternative Analysis!”

https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/969456/download

BIA Headnote:

“(1) Whether a particular social group based on family membership is cognizable depends on the nature and degree of the relationships involved and how those relationships are regarded by the society in question. (2) To establish eligibility for asylum on the basis of membership in a particular social group composed of family members, an applicant must not only demonstrate that he or she is a member of the family but also that the family relationship is at least one central reason for the claimed harm.”

PANEL: BIA Appellate Immigration Judges Greer, Malphrus, Liebowitz

OPINION BY: Judge Anne Greer

*****************************************************

I was the Immigration Judge in one of the leading “family as a PSG” cases cited by the BIA, the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117, 124−25 (4th Cir. 2011). In Crespin, I had granted asylum to a Salvadoran family comprising a PSG of “family members of those who actively oppose gangs in El Salvador by agreeing to be prosecutorial witnesses.”

The BIA reversed me on appeal, and the respondents sought judicial review in the Fourth Circuit. That Court (much to my delight and satisfaction, I must admit) reversed the BIA and agreed with me that the respondent’s PSG was valid.

Following that, family based PSGs came up frequently in the Arlington Immigration Court. However, in a number of cases, as in  L-E-A-, in their haste to posit a valid family-based PSG, attorneys neglected to prove the nexus between the PSG and the harm, or, even more surprisingly, failed to show that the respondent was even a member of the proposed PSG. Details are important!

Nevertheless, since family-based PSG cases are often “grantable,” I can’t help wondering why the BIA selected a denial for the precedent, rather than putting forth a positive example of how family-based PSGs can be a legitimate means of granting protection under the law and thereby saving lives?

In L-E-A-, the PSG was the respondent’s membership in his father’s family. Gangs threatened him with harm because they wanted him to sell drugs in his father’s store, and he refused. The respondent’s membership in the family is immutable. Additionally, there is no reason to believe that the gangs would have threatened the respondent but for his membership in a family which ran a store where they wanted to sell drugs.

Consequently, the IJ and the BIA  panel could just have easily found that “family membership” was at least one central reason for the threatened harm. To me, this seems like a better analysis. I find the panel’s observation that anyone who owned the store would have been threatened irrelevant. So what?

PWS

05-25-17

New From 9th Circuit: Ayala v. Sessions — Reaffirming “economic extortion on the basis of a protected characteristic can constitute persecution!” — Judicial Review of Credible Fear/Reinstatement — “Extortion Plus” Reaffirmed!

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/05/01/13-72250.pdf

“The IJ abused his discretion in concluding that there was no legal error in his previous opinion affirming the negative reasonable fear determination.5 Contrary to the IJ’s holding, our precedents make clear that economic extortion on the basis of a protected characteristic can constitute persecution.

5 We review the legal error de novo and conclude that the IJ abused his discretion in reaching the result he did. See Popa v. Holder, 571 F.3d 890, 894 (9th Cir. 2009) (“An IJ abuses his discretion when he acts arbitrarily, irrationally, or contrary to law.”) (citations and quotation marks omitted); see also Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 405 (1990) (“A district court would necessarily abuse its discretion if it based its ruling on an erroneous view of the law or on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence.”).

AYALA V. SESSIONS 17

Borja, 175 F.3d at 736; Barajas-Romero, 846 F.3d at 357 & n.5 (“A person seeking withholding of removal must prove not only that his life or freedom will be threatened in his home country, but also that the threat is ‘because of’ one of the five listed reasons:” race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion) (citing 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A); 8 C.F.R. § 208.16(b)). In Borja, for example, the petitioner suffered past persecution on account of her political opinion when she was extorted partly for economic reasons and partly on the basis of her political statements. 175 F.3d at 736. We described this type of persecution as “extortion plus”—that is, extortion, with the threat of violence, on the basis of a protected characteristic. Id.

Here, Ayala testified that she suffered this type of persecution by stating that she faced extortion, and threats of violence, not only for economic reasons, but also because of her family ties. Rios v. Lynch, 807 F.3d 1123, 1128 (9th Cir. 2015) (“[T]he family remains the quintessential particular social group.”). Whatever the merits of her claim, it was legal error for the IJ to hold that extortion could not constitute persecution for the purposes of withholding of removal: where the petitioner’s membership in a particular social group (in this case, a family) is at least “a reason” for the extortion, it is sufficient to meet the nexus requirement for withholding of removal. See Barajas-Romero, 846 F.3d at 360 (Post REAL-ID withholding claims are not governed by the “one central reason” test that applies to asylum claims, but instead require only that a protected ground was “a reason” for persecution, which “is a less demanding standard.”).

18 AYALA V. SESSIONS

Therefore, we grant Ayala’s petition for review, and remand for the IJ to address whether Ayala has established a reasonable fear based on her extortion-plus claim of persecution.

CONCLUSION

We have jurisdiction to review the IJ’s negative reasonable fear determination relating to the reinstatement of Ayala’s expedited removal order. The BIA’s dismissal of Ayala’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction was the final order of removal; therefore, Ayala’s petition for review is timely because it was filed less than 30 days after that order.

We hold that the IJ abused his discretion in concluding that extortion could not constitute past persecution, and in failing to consider the question of Ayala’s family ties. Therefore, we GRANT Ayala’s petition for review and REMAND for proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

PANEL:

Stephen Reinhardt and Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges, and Edward R. Korman,* District Judge. (*The Honorable Edward R. Korman, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, sitting by designation.)

OPINION BY:  Judge Reinhardt

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In my experience, U.S. Immigration Judges, the BIA, and some Courts of Appeals make the mistake highlighted by the 9th Circuit in far too many instances by summarily disregarding credible claims of persecution based on extortion. That’s why the Trump Administration’s effort to “heighten” the standards for “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” of persecution will almost certainly compromise due process and fairness.

PWS

05-01-17

NEW FROM 4TH CIR: Cantallano-Cruz v. Sessions — 4th Rips BIA’s “Excessively Narrow” & “Shortsighted” Treatment Of “Nexus” Issue In Honduran Family PSG Asylum Case!

http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/152511.P.pdf

“Our decision in Hernandez-Avalos is particularly instructive in the present case. There, the BIA denied asylum to a petitioner who fled El Salvador after gang members threatened to kill her because she prevented her son from joining the gang. 784 F.3d at 946-47. The petitioner had argued that at least one central reason for her persecution was her nuclear family relationship with her son. Id. at 949. The BIA disagreed, holding that she actually was targeted because she did not consent to her son’s criminal activity. Id.

We held that this application of the nexus requirement by the BIA was “excessively narrow,” and explained that there was no meaningful distinction between the existence of a maternal relationship and a mother’s decision to forbid her son from participating in a gang. Id. at 949–50. We held that the record compelled a factual conclusion that the petitioner’s relationship with her son was a central reason for her persecution, because that relationship was the reason “why she, and not another person, was threatened.” Id. at 950.

We likewise conclude in the present case that the BIA and IJ applied an improper and excessively narrow interpretation of the evidence relevant to the statutory nexus requirement. The BIA and IJ shortsightedly focused on Avila’s articulated purpose of preventing Cantillano Cruz from contacting the police, while discounting the very relationship that prompted her to search for her husband, to confront Avila, and to express her intent to contact the police. See Oliva, 807 F.3d at 59-60 (although the applicant’s refusal to pay the gang rent was the “immediate trigger” for an assault, the applicant’s membership in the social group of individuals who left the gang led to threats, and thus the two reasons were linked). The BIA’s and IJ’s focus on the explanation Avila gave for his threats, while failing to consider the intertwined reasons for those threats, manifests a misapplication of the statutory nexus standard.

The full record before us compels a conclusion that Avila’s threats were motivated, in at least one central respect, by Cantillano Cruz’s membership in Martinez’s nuclear family. Although, as the IJ observed, any person interested in Martinez’s disappearance may have confronted Avila concerning Martinez’s whereabouts, this fact does not adequately explain the ongoing threats Avila made against Cantillano Cruz and her children over a period of two years at her home. See Cordova, 759 F.3d at 339-40 (although the applicant was first attacked by the persecutor to force the applicant to join the gang, the BIA failed to consider evidence showing that later attacks were motivated by family ties). Avila persisted in threatening Cantillano Cruz after she promised him that she would not contact the police. Avila placed threatening telephone calls to Cantillano Cruz at her home, the center of life for Martinez and his nuclear family. Also at the Martinez family’s home, Avila and his associates killed the family’s dogs, brandished and fired weapons, and threatened to harm Cantillano Cruz and her children.”

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Read the full opinion at the link.

In too many cases, the BIA appears to strain the law and misconstrue facts to avoid granting protection to deserving applicants from Northern Triangle countries in Central America who clearly face harm upon return. Misapplication of the highly technical concept of “nexus” is a device sometimes used by by the Board and some Immigration Judges to deny claims of vulnerable individuals who could and should be granted protection under U.S. laws.

In doing so, the BIA jettisons the generous spirit of the Supreme Court’s decision in Cardoza-Fonseca and their own precedent decision in Mogharrabi warranting generous treatment of credible asylum seekers in need of protection. Indeed, the BIA often seems more willing to “rote cite” Mogharrabi than to actually follow their own precedent.

The purpose of asylum and other protections laws is to protect individuals facing harm wherever possible, not to find hyper-technical ways to deny or limit protections.

I am pleased that one of the cases cited by the Fourth Circuit is Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117 (4th Cir. 2011). Crespin is one of the “seminal” fourth Circuit cases recognizing family as a “particular social group” for asylum purposes. I had granted the asylum applications in Crespin only to have the BIA reverse those grants after the DHS appealed.  However, upon judicial review, the Fourth Circuit agreed with me and reversed and remanded the case to the BIA.

This case also vividly illustrates the absurdity of forcing individuals to pursue these types of claims in Immigration Court without a lawyer. Even the Immigration Judge and the BIA were confused about the proper standards here!  Fortunately, this individual not only had a lawyer but a good one.

But, how would an unrepresented individual, without English language skills, and perhaps with minimal education, and therefore no ability to access or understand the important and complicated Fourth Circuit precedents showing the BIA and the IJ to be wrong have any legitimate chance of achieving success? Yet, the Administration proposes to race just such individuals through expedited hearings at inconveniently located and often poorly run detention facilities where chances of getting competent legal assistance are minimal.

PWS

03/13/17