On May 15, 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the Immigration Judge’s denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture to Mr. Abrahim Brima Bah, a citizen of Liberia.
Bah stated that he suffered past persecution and had a well-founded fear of future persecution in Liberia because of his membership in the Mandingo tribal group and his imputed political opinion. He testified that Former President Charles Taylor’s forces targeted Mandingos, including his father, because they believed Mandingos supported the prior government.
In 1989, Taylor and his rebel forces waged a war against the Liberian government. After Bah witnessed Taylor’s forces murder his father, he sought refuge in neighboring Sierra Leone for six years. In 1996, Bah returned to Liberia and found his mother and three brothers in Monrovia. He did not find his sister, whose fate remains unknown. Bah joined the All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) and, as assistant secretary general for its youth wing, campaigned against Taylor. After Taylor won the election in 1997, his forces began persecuting ALCOP members. They arrested Bah twice and threatened to kill him. Taylor’s forces also burned the family home, destroyed Bah’s personal property, and beat his brothers. After Bah found out he was blacklisted for elimination, he fled to the United States.
The IJ found Bah generally credible and accepted his factual statements. Nevertheless, the IJ determined that Bah’s encounters with Taylor’s forces were isolated, unconnected events that did not amount to past persecution. She added that Bah lacked a well-founded fear because at the time of the hearing, Taylor was in exile in Nigeria and Liberia had a different government. She rejected Bah’s testimony that Taylor’s soldiers still posed a danger in Liberia because many stayed in the security forces and others formed roving gangs. The IJ also noted that the appropriate relief was Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which Bah has.
Bah appealed the IJ’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which affirmed the IJ’s finding that Bah suffered no past persecution and had the burden to prove a well-founded fear of future persecution based on current country conditions.
The Eighth Circuit Court reversed the Board’s decision, finding that Bah demonstrated he suffered past persecution, and he was therefore presumed to have a well-founded fear of future persecution. The Eighth Circuit Court remanded the case to the Board for an assessment of changed country conditions with the burden of proof on the government.
Final Rule Regarding Affidavits Of Support Becomes EFffective On JULY 21, 2006
On June 21, 2006, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a final rule regarding Affidavits of Support (Form I-864). The final rule aims to streamline the Affidavit of Support process and takes effect on July 21, 2006.
Sponsors are required to submit Affidavits of Support on behalf of most family-based and some employment-based immigrants. The Affidavit of Support is a legally binding contract that requires the sponsor to support the intending immigrant and establishes that the intending immigrant is unlikely to become a public charge.
The final rule:
- Reduces required initial documentation
- Introduces new EZ Affidavit of Support (Form I-864EZ)
- Establishes new Intending Immigrant’s I-864 Exemption (Form I-864W)
- Eliminates the affidavit of support in certain cases
- Allows two joint sponsors per family unit intending to immigrate based upon the same petition
- Provides more flexible definition of “household size”
- Reduces the amount of assets that certain sponsors must show in order to cover any shortfall in their household income:
The final rule will apply to any Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status) or Form DS-230 (Application for Immigrant Visa) that is decided on or after July 21, 2006, even if the application was filed before that date.
For more details on the final rule, please see the USCIS website, www.uscis.gov.
Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for an individual case or situation. The information is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, consult and attorney experience in immigration law.