CASE: Asylum in Immigration Court
LOCATION: Cleveland Immigration Court
Our Cameroonian client came to the United States on a B-2 visitor’s visa in November 2013 with her minor daughter. She was persecuted and harmed in Cameroon based on her political opinion and political activism, so within one year of her entry, she filed an asylum application (Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and relief under the CAT) to the USCIS. She was interviewed at the Asylum Office, but her case was referred to an immigration judge. The Notice to Appear was issued and our client was placed in removal proceedings. The USCIS thought that our client’s testimony was different from that of her written statement.
After the case was referred to the Immigration Court, our client contacted our office in early January of 2015, and eventually retained our office on January 20, 2015.
Our client was scared to go back home to Cameroon, fearing that she will be persecuted based on her political opinion and her past participation with human rights activist groups. While our client was a student in Cameroon, she became a human rights activist involved in educating and informing fellow students on campus for their basic fundamental rights. Our client organized some student movement activities, joined student marches against government’s actions and participated in political activities. As a result, she was arrested and detained multiple times by the Cameroonian police and has experienced harm and mistreatments in numerous occasions. Moreover, her father was arrested and detained due to his political opinion.
We helped her prepare her asylum application and represented her in immigration court hearings. We also asked her to provide supporting documents corroborating her claim, some of which were a letter from her family members, colleagues and friends in Cameroon, Cameroonian medical documents of our client’s injury, and her membership certification with the different organizations. Our firm also did some research on articles related to her claim, and the type of persecution she will experience in Cameroon if sent back.
Our client’s individual hearing was scheduled on July 24, 2015 at the Cleveland Immigration Court. Attorney Sung Hee (Glen) Yu represented our client at the hearing. During the hearing, our client testified credibly as to her past persecution in Cameroon and likelihood of future persecution.
However, during the cross-examination, the DHS attorney raised an issue of “firm resettlement.” Congress has mandated by statute numerous exceptions and exclusions to the grant of asylum, one being that the applicant has been firmly resettled in another country prior to arriving in the U.S. 8 C.F.R. §§ 2208.13(c)(2)(i)(B). The applicant will be deemed firmly resettled if, prior to arriving in the U.S., he or she entered another country with, or while in that country received, an offer of permanent resident status, citizenship, or some other type of permanent resettlement. 8 C.F.R. § 208.15. The offer must be must be for permanent, not temporary, residence in a third country where the applicant lived peacefully and without restriction. Maharaj v. Gonzales, 450 F.3d 961, 969 (9th Cir. 2006).
In fact, prior to her entry to the U.S., our client lived in Denmark for one year. The DHS alleged that she had a permanent residency in Denmark. Nevertheless, our office filed the brief and supporting documents. In the brief, we argued that our client’s visa and “residence cards” in Denmark were all indications of a temporary status, and based on she not being able to meet the permanent residency requirements, she is clearly was never “firmly resettled”, nor was a permanent resident, nor was offered permanent residency in Denmark.
Eventually, on November 25, 2016, the Immigration Judge granted asylum relief for our client. She is now an asylee who will get her work permit in two weeks and will be eligible to apply for permanent residency in one year.