BOSTON COURT THWARTS ADMINISTRATION’S ATTEMPT TO REMOVE INDONESIAN CHRISTIANS WITHOUT DUE PROCESS!

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/judge-court-jurisdiction-indonesian-immigration-case-51418498

ALANNA DURKIN RICHER REPORTS FOR ASSOCIATED PRESS ON ABC NEWS:

“Dozens of Indonesians fighting deportation from the United States won another reprieve Monday when a judge ruled that a federal court has the authority to take up their case.

U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris in Boston rejected the government’s argument that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the matter and that immigration officials should be allowed to immediately deport the Indonesians.

An attorney for roughly 50 Christian Indonesians, who fear persecution if returned home, called the judge’s decision “enormously significant.”

“It reaffirms the central role of the federal courts in ensuring that there is a fair process when someone’s life may be at stake,” said Lee Gelernt, of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The court soundly rejected the government’s position that the federal courts lack authority to ensure that individuals have an opportunity to present their case before an immigration judge before they’re removed.”

The judge is blocking immigration officials from removing the Indonesians until the court considers their request for a preliminary injunction. She had initially put their deportation on hold until she could decide whether the court had authority to take up the matter.

The government already appealed the judge’s earlier decision to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is likely to challenge her latest ruling.

Many of the Indonesians went to seacoast communities in New Hampshire, where they found jobs and raised families. In a deal brokered by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, in 2009, they were allowed to stay as long as they regularly reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

But in recent months, they were told during their visits to the immigration office that they should buy plane tickets and prepare to leave the country. Some said they fear returning to Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, due to an uptick in intolerance and violence against Christians and other minorities.

Shaheen said she’s “very encouraged” by the ruling.

“New Hampshire should continue to be a sanctuary to the Indonesian community that fled religious persecution,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Deporting these individuals will needlessly split families and communities, and put lives in danger. I’ll continue to make every effort to prevent these deportations so that the Indonesian community can continue to live peacefully in New Hampshire.”

A federal judge in Michigan ruled in July that a U.S. district court has jurisdiction in a similar immigration case. The government is challenging that ruling, which halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution.”

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Yet another setback for the Trumpsters in their quest to deny legal and human rights to the most vulnerable among us. This one also appears on its face to be politically motivated. When will Christian Evangelicals finally wake up to the threat that this Administration poses to everyone in America?

PWS

11-27-17

HON. JEFFREY CHASE WITH SOME GREAT PRACTICAL ADVICE ON HOW YOU CAN MAKE THE 1ST CIRCUIT’S RECENT DECISION IN Aguilar-Escoto v. Sessions, No. 16-1090 (1st Cir. Oct. 27, 2017) “WORK FOR YOU!”

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/11/2/1st-cir-on-why-all-evidence-must-be-considered

1st Cir. on Why All Evidence Must Be Considered

In Aguilar-Escoto v. Sessions, No. 16-1090 (1st Cir. Oct. 27, 2017), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated the BIA’s erroneous decision affirming an immigration judge’s denial of withholding of removal.  The circuit court employed an interesting approach that lawyers and judges may wish to examine.

In Aguilar-Escoto, the Board upheld the immigration judge’s adverse credibility finding.  However, the petitioner also provided significant documentary evidence.  Although the IJ had considered and disposed of such evidence, the Board did not address it.  On appeal, the First Circuit adopted the view of the Eleventh Circuit in holding that “an adverse credibility determination does not alleviate the BIA’s duty to consider other evidence…”  The court concluded that remand was required “irrespective of the supportability of the adverse credibility finding” in order for the Board to consider the previously neglected evidence.  However, the court reached such conclusion in an unusual way.

Although the IJ had correctly noted that the application was for withholding of removal, the Board carelessly stated that the petitioner “failed to meet her burden of proof for asylum.”  As those of us who practice in this field all know, asylum and withholding have different burdens of proof.  As the Board is fond of saying in its decisions, if the respondent did not meet her burden of proof for asylum, “it follows that she has not satisfied the more stringent burden that applies to withholding of removal.”  The Board used similar boilerplate in this case.

However, the circuit court here stated that in one way, the burden for asylum “may be more exacting.”  The court noted that asylum has a subjective and objective component: an applicant must establish both a genuine subjective fear, and then must show that such fear is objectively reasonable.  Although withholding of removal requires a much greater probability of harm (more than 50 percent, as opposed to the 10 percent needed for asylum), the court observed that the focus is entirely on the objective; i.e. there is no inquiry into the applicant’s own subjective fear.  In other words, asylum applicants must first convince the adjudicator that  they are genuinely afraid of being persecuted, and must then provide enough objective evidence to show that such fear is reasonable.  Withholding applicants must show through objective evidence that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that they will suffer persecution; their own fear is irrelevant to the inquiry.  The reason for this distinction is that asylum requires one to meet the statutory definition of “refugee,” which involves a “well-founded fear of persecution.”   Withholding of removal does not incorporate the refugee definition, but rather prohibits removal to a country where the Attorney General decides that the individual’s freedom would be threatened on account of a protected ground.  Thus, in asylum, the adjudicator is reviewing the reasonableness of the applicant’s own fear; in withholding of removal, the A.G. is the one determining the threat to safety.

The First Circuit explains the importance of this distinction: an adverse credibility finding impacts the genuineness of the applicant’s subjective fear.  However, it does not impact the independent objective evidence regarding the likelihood of the applicant suffering harm if returned to her country.  The court noted that in mistakenly thinking it was affirming a denial of asylum based on adverse credibility, the Board then added common boilerplate language that, since the applicant did not meet the lower burden required for asylum, it follows that she did not meet withholding’s higher burden.  But the court said that logic only applies where the subjective fear element is satisfied, but the claim was denied due to a failure to provide sufficient objective evidence to support such fear.  Here, as the adverse credibility finding precluded the petitioner from establishing a genuine subjective fear of persecution, the withholding of removal application required a separate inquiry as to whether the independent objective evidence was sufficient to establish the likelihood of persecution.  The record was therefore remanded for such inquiry.

To illustrate by way of example, let’s say an applicant applies for asylum and withholding based on her Christian religion.  The applicant claims to be afraid to return to her country because she received multiple threatening phone calls and letters referencing her religion.  The applicant also submits news articles and human rights reports detailing violent attacks on Christians in her hometown.  Now, let’s assume that the immigration judge believes that the respondent is in fact a practicing Christian.  However, the IJ concludes that the claimed threats lack credibility.  Asylum requires the applicant to first demonstrate a genuine subjective fear of persecution.  The respondent testified that her fear was based on the threats.  Under the First Circuit’s holding, if the IJ finds that the threats didn’t actually occur, the IJ can determine that the respondent did not establish a genuine fear of persecution.

However, what if the reports and articles believably establish that Christians run a high risk of being persecuted on account of their religion?  The IJ did believe that the respondent was in fact a practicing Christian.  According to the First Circuit, the IJ therefore just can’t dispose of the withholding claim by stating that the respondent didn’t meet the lower burden of proof for asylum, so therefore couldn’t have met the higher burden for withholding.  The IJ would instead have to apply a separate analysis as to whether the articles and reports independently establish that it is more likely than not the respondent would be persecuted on account of her religion if removed to her country.  If so, the respondent is entitled to withholding of removal (which is a non-discretionary form of relief).

Both immigration practitioners and government adjudicators should take note, and approach their arguments and drafting of decisions accordingly.  As an aside,  the nuances and degree of analysis that the circuit court’s decision requires of adjudicators underscores the danger of the Department of Justice’s stated intent to impose case completion quotas on immigration judges.  As my good friend and fellow blogger Paul Schmidt recently wrote on the topic (and as this case clearly illustrates), immigration judges are not piece workers, and fair court decisions are not widgets (well said, Paul!).

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

Thanks much for the “shout out” in your final sentence, Jeffrey!
Here’s a link to my previous blog on Aguilar-Escoto v. Sessions

1ST CIR. BOPS BIA’S BOILERPLATE DENIAL OF DOCUMENTED WITHHOLDING CLAIM – AGUILAR-ESCOTO V. SESSIONS!

1stCirAsy:WH16-1090P-01A

Aguilar-Escoto v. Sessions, 1st Cir., 10-27-17, published

PANEL: Howard, Chief Judge,Thompson and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.

OPINION BY: Chief Judge Howard

KEY QUOTE:

“We review the BIA’s legal conclusions de novo and its findings of fact under the “substantial evidence” standard, meaning that we will not disturb such findings if they are “supported by reasonable, substantial, and probative evidence on the record considered as a whole.” Xin Qiang Liu v. Lynch, 802 F.3d 69, 74 (1st Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). In our review of the record, we note that while the BIA need not “discuss every piece of evidence offered,” it is “required to consider all

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relevant evidence in the record.” Lin v. Mukasey, 521 F.3d 22, 28 (1st Cir. 2008) (emphasis added). Consistent with this obligation, the Eleventh Circuit has specifically held that “an adverse credibility determination does not alleviate the BIA’s duty to consider other evidence produced by” an applicant for relief. Hong Chen v. U.S. Att’y Gen., 231 F. App’x 900, 902 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Forgue v. U.S. Att’y Gen., 401 F.3d 1282, 1287 (11th Cir. 2005)). Rather, where the applicant provides evidence other than her own testimony, the agency “must consider that evidence” and may not “rely solely on an adverse credibility determination.” Forgue, 401 F.3d at 1287. According to the Eleventh Circuit, the agency’s failure to fulfill this duty is grounds for vacating the BIA decision, irrespective of the merits of the adverse credibility finding. See Toska v. U.S. Att’y Gen., 194 F. App’x 767, 768 (11th Cir. 2006); see also Khattak v. Holder, 704 F.3d 197, 208 (1st Cir. 2013) (“[W]e will remand if the agency fails to state with sufficient particularity and clarity the reasons for denial of [relief] or otherwise to offer legally sufficient reasons for its decision.” (citation omitted)).

We agree with the Eleventh Circuit’s approach to this issue, which is consistent with our precedent. See Rasiah v. Holder, 589 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2009) (“An adverse credibility finding by itself would not automatically doom a claim for asylum.”). The appropriate result in this case follows easily.

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Even assuming that its credibility ruling was supportable, the BIA was required to go further and address whether, setting Aguilar’s testimony to one side, the documentary evidence entitled her to relief. See Lin, 521 F.3d at 28; Forgue, 401 F.3d at 1287. Indeed, the IJ expressly recognized that this documentary evidence, if believed, was sufficient to establish multiple acts of domestic violence against Aguilar by her ex-husband. In these circumstances, the BIA’s failure to consider or even acknowledge the evidence requires remand. See Toska, 194 F. App’x at 768; Khattak, 704 F.3d at 208. We take no position on the merits of the IJ’s holding that the abuse reflected in the documentary evidence was not sufficiently severe to warrant relief. This issue is best left to be addressed by the BIA in the first instance.

We note, for the benefit of the agency on remand, that the Board’s failure to consider Aguilar’s documentary evidence may have been rooted in its fundamental misunderstanding of her claim. Again, the Board appears to have operated under the mistaken assumption that Aguilar had applied for asylum as well as withholding of removal. These two grounds for relief are not identical. For one thing, withholding of removal requires a higher likelihood of persecution than asylum. See Romilus v. Ashcroft, 385 F.3d 1, 8 (1st Cir. 2004) (noting that applicants for withholding must satisfy a “more likely than not” standard (citation omitted)). There is, however, a different sense in which

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the asylum standard may be more exacting. Withholding claims “lack a subjective component and are [thus] concerned only with objective evidence of future persecution.” Paul v. Gonzales, 444 F.3d 148, 155-56 (2d Cir. 2006); see also INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421, 430 (1987) (explaining that the relevant statutory language “has no subjective component”). Asylum, by contrast, has both a subjective and an objective component: it requires a showing that the applicant “genuinely fears persecution,” in addition to proof that the “fear is objectively reasonable.” Makhoul v. Ashcroft, 387 F.3d 75, 80 (1st Cir. 2004). Applicants “typically” seek to establish the requisite “genuineness” through their “own credible testimony.” Id. at 80-81. An adverse credibility finding thus may prove fatal to this aspect of an asylum claim. But, because withholding of removal requires no such genuine belief, a withholding claim “may, in appropriate instances, be sustained” despite an adverse credibility finding. Paul, 444 F.3d at 156.

In the present case, the BIA may well have been justified in concluding that, absent her own credible testimony, Aguilar failed to establish a subjectively genuine fear that she would be persecuted upon returning to Honduras. This failure would doom an asylum claim notwithstanding additional evidence establishing that a reasonable person in Aguilar’s circumstances would have feared persecution. See Makhoul, 387 F.3d at 80-81. But, in the withholding context, the inquiry is a strictly objective one. See

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Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. at 430-31. Thus, even after discrediting Aguilar’s testimony, arguably the only evidence that she did in fact harbor a subjective fear of persecution, the BIA was nonetheless obliged to consider documentary evidence potentially capable of establishing her likelihood of suffering further abuse.

Rather than embarking on this objective assessment, the BIA fell back on the familiar refrain that, because “the applicant did not establish eligibility for asylum, it follows that she cannot establish eligibility for withholding of removal, which has a higher burden of proof.” Such a conclusion is unassailable where the applicant’s subjective fear is proven or assumed, and the denial of the asylum claim turns on the lack of evidence that the fear was objectively reasonable. See, e.g., Makhoul, 387 F.3d at 81. But the same is not necessarily true where an asylum claim fails due to a lack of credible testimony establishing the applicant’s subjective fear. The Board’s failure to apply the appropriate, purely objective standard to Aguilar’s withholding claim provides an independent basis for remand. See Kozak v. Gonzáles, 502 F.3d 34, 38 (1st Cir. 2007) (remanding because “the BIA applied an inappropriate legal standard”); Castañeda-Castillo v. Gonzales, 488 F.3d 17, 22 (1st Cir. 2007) (remanding “to allow the matter to be considered anew under the proper legal standards”).

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III.
For the foregoing reasons, we VACATE the BIA’s order

dismissing Aguilar’s appeal and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

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You can read the complete opinion at the link

This type of reversal does not involve a “Chevron-type” legal policy issue where the BIA and the Article IIIs might well reach different conclusions. Rather, this case is all about the BIA misapplying the “fundamental nuts and bolts” of credibility and withholding analysis in putting out a “boilerplate denial.” Why should the Article IIIs be finding “mechanical-analytical” issues that the expert BIA missed? Perhaps the EOIR system is “peddling too fast.” In that case, Sessions’s proposed “production quotas for judges” are the absolute worst thing that could happen to the Immigration Courts and Due Process.

Also, if the Article IIIs are better than the BIA at the basics of immigration and asylum law, why shouldn’t the Article IIIs, not the BIA, be getting “Chevron deference?”

Split 1st Cir. Bops BIA For Failing To Consider Reg Requiring That Resettlement Be “Reasonable” — Garcia-Cruz v. Sessions

http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/15-2272P-01A.pdf

“8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(3), however, lists a number of factors that an adjudicator should consider. “[W]hile the IJ and BIA do not necessarily have to address each of [8 C.F.R. § 208.13(b)(3)’s] reasonableness factors explicitly . . . the agency must explain why the factors that cut against the asylum applicant outweigh the factors in his favor.” Khattak v. Holder, 704 F.3d 197, 207 (1st Cir. 2013); see also Saldarriaga v. Gonzales, 241 F. App’x 432, 434 (9th Cir. 2007) (remanding asylum petition for further review because “the IJ did not consider whether [the petitioner’s] relocation would be reasonable”). In Khattak, the BIA determined that the petitioner could relocate to another part of Pakistan where he owned a home and had briefly lived twenty years earlier. 704 F.3d at 206-07. We remanded to the BIA, however, because (1) “neither the IJ nor the BIA addressed evidence in the record indicating that” the petitioner would not be safe in that area and (2) “neither the IJ nor the BIA made any mention of [the reasonableness] factors.” Id. at 207.

          Relevant factors here include:
  •   “ongoing civil strife within the country “(the IJ found that “electoral violence” is common “in every electoral cycle”);
  •   “economic…infrastructure “(IJ found that relocation “would be economically difficult”);
  •   “socialandculturalconstraints”(García-Cruz speaks Quiché, a minority language that has no official status and is spoken mainly in Guatemala’s central highlands); and
  •   “familial ties”(all of García-Cruz’s extended family live in Chixocol).

-Yet the IJ and the BIA discussed only the fact that García-Cruz’s wife and children were in Salamá. They did not address evidence in the record that appears to undercut the conclusion that García- Cruz could reasonably relocate within Guatemala — for example, García-Cruz’s testimony that he could not live with his wife in Salamá and does not “have a home . . . [or] a job” there. Thus, neither the BIA nor the IJ “presented a reasoned analysis of the evidence as a whole.” Id. at 208 (quoting Jabri v. Holder, 675 F.3d 20, 24 (1st Cir. 2012)).

García-Cruz asserts that “every single factor” supports a conclusion that he cannot reasonably relocate, but he does little to develop this argument. He then asserts that the BIA’s “unfounded conclusion . . . itself requires reversal.” That is not accurate. To reverse the BIA’s order, rather than simply remand it, the evidence must compel us to conclude that it would beunreasonableforGarcía-CruztorelocatewithinGuatemala. Id. at 207 (citing INS v. Elías-Zacarías, 502 U.S. 478, 481 n.1 (1992)). There is significant evidence in the record supporting a conclusion that relocation would be unreasonable. But García- Cruz has understandably focused on the BIA’s failure to properly analyze the reasonableness factors, rather than whether the evidence compels a finding that internal relocation would be unreasonable, and neither the IJ nor the BIA weighed the reasonableness factors. Given the limited analysis on this issue, we think it best to remand to the BIA to consider it fully. We therefore grant the petition for review, vacate the BIA’s order, and remand for further proceedings.”

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PRACTICE POINTER:

8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(3) requires that internal relocation not just be “possible,” but also must be “reasonable” under all of the circumstances. Sometimes Immigration Judges at both the trial and appellate level ignore this requirement and the relevant regulation. Attorneys challenging “internal relocation” should be sure to cite the regulation and refer specifically to the non-exclusive list of the type of factors that should be considered.

Additionally, as pointed out by the 1st Circuit majority, the BIA and the IJ could have found that the respondent suffered past persecution, thus shifting the burden to the DHS to provide that there was no reasonably available internal relocation alternative. In cases of this type, where a finding granting protection could have been made, but the BIA chose not to, it appears that the BIA has both failed to follow the generous dictates of their own precedent in Mogharrabi, but also  has abandoned the vision of “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.” “Close cases” should go to the respondent under Cardoza-Fonseca and Mogharrabi. But, for the last decade plus, the BIA has been unwilling to follow the law and its own precedents mandating generous treatment of asylum seekers.

PWS

05-29-=17