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Immigration Law

CA2 on Social Group, Albania: Paloka v. Holder

"The primary issue on this appeal is whether “young Albanian women” or “young Albanian women between the ages of 15 and 25" qualify as a “particular social group” for asylum purposes. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A). ... In view of the BIA’s two recent precedential decisions clarifying its interpretation of “particular social group” for asylum purposes, we will remand so that the BIA may determine, in the first instance, whether Paloka’s proposed social groups qualify for asylum purposes. ... The new clarifying opinions are important for cases, like Paloka’s, that straddle the line between individuals threatened by state-sponsored or state-condoned criminality on account of their membership in a particular social group and individuals threatened only because they live in a country with pervasive criminality. While continuing to emphasize that a particular social group is not cognizable merely because “‘members have been subjected to harm,’” see M-E-V-G-, 26 I. & N. Dec. at 242 (quoting In re A-M-E- & J-G-U-, 24 I & N. Dec. 69, 74 (B.I.A. 2007)), the BIA stressed that the “shared trait of persecution does not disqualify an otherwise valid social group” and that persecution can be the “catalyst” for societal recognition. See id. at 243. ... [B]eing a victim of a crime or even being a likely target for criminal opportunistic behavior does not necessarily preclude the existence of a valid asylum claim if the claimant would likely be targeted because of her membership in a sufficiently defined social group. See M-E-V-G-, 26 I. & N. Dec. at 243; see also Cece, 733 F.3d at 671-72. Indeed, those facing persecution may often be the most vulnerable to crimes, especially if the government condones or aids the perpetrators. ... [T]he decision of the BIA is vacated, and the case is remanded for reconsideration." - Paloka v. Holder, Aug. 7, 2014.  [Hats off to Kai W. De Graaf!]