Zimbabwe Asylee Granted Asylum Status
In Mandebvu v. Holder (decided in June of 2014), a couple from Zimbabwe applied for asylum status after overstaying their student visa. Both the husband and the wife opposed the ruling party and its brutality against the opposition. The husband did not personally experience targeted persecution. The wife, however, did experience threat, harassment and confiscation of personal property. Upon the last episode of targeted threat and harassment by the subsidiary of the ruling party, the wife quit the job at school and brought two children to the United States for family reunion.
This could have been an otherwise easy case, had the petitioners filed their asylum application in time. They did not, even though all other circumstances could have been good for their case. Therefore, the couple was placed in removal proceeding. The hearing did not result in favorable outcomes. It was denied by the immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals due to untimeliness and other reasons. The couple appealed refuting the rejection based on untimely filing date and lack of merit.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, reversed the district court’s decision and remanded the case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The Court of Appeals first found jurisdiction to review this untimely application. The construction of the “changed circumstance” in the provision should not be construed so narrowly that important and incremental changes in petitioners’ home countries are categorically insufficient. In plain meaning reading, the Congress did not show intention to render such a narrow interpretation. If so, the Congress would have specified explicitly.
The Court then proceeded to find that the petitioner had met a preponderance of evidence to show fear of future persecution. The petitioner was found to be part of the protected group and the listed activities against petitioner indeed rises to the level of persecution. Though neither respondent were opposition leaders, expression of political opinion, positively visible or negatively passive, has been found valid. Lacking evidence of personal conflict with the authority in power, the only fair inference is that the petitioner was persecuted due to his or her political opinion. In this case, many opponent of the party, affiliated and unaffiliated with the opposition party, had been targeted for persecution. Thus, credible fear was found.
Lastly, the Court found evidence to support the wife’s fear of future persecution. Many of her immediate family had been harassed and threatened on a regular basis.
In short, please do file your asylum application in time. Do not jeopardize your case by filing too late, such as what occurred in this case. Columbus and Detroit immigration lawyer are ready to be at your service.
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