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Immigration Law

CA5 AWO Remand: Matei v. Garland

Matei v. Garland (unpub.)

"Romulus Matei and Matei’s derivative beneficiary, Madalina Barbu, petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) decision affirming without opinion the immigration judge’s (IJ) denial of Matei’s application for asylum and withholding of removal. Matei claims asylum based on alleged past persecution and a fear of future persecution in Romania because he is of Roma ethnicity. We grant the petition for review, vacate the order of removal, and remand to the BIA. ... Here, the IJ properly determined that Matei failed to show that he suffered past persecution, which meant Matei bore the burden of showing a well-founded fear of persecution. However, the IJ failed to announce the decision regarding fear of persecution in sufficient terms for this court to “perceive that [the IJ] has heard and thought and not merely reacted.” ... Although we do not require the IJ to “address evidentiary minutiae or write any lengthy exegesis,” when the only evidence cited comes from an older country report, that evidence is improperly attributed to more recent country reports, and there is no indication that the IJ considered the treatment of Roma actually described in the more recent country reports, the IJ has not “announce[d] its decision in terms sufficient” for this court to ensure Matei “received full and fair consideration.” The IJ’s analysis “raises too great a concern that [she] did not adequately consider the evidence before [her].” It is not sufficient that the IJ stated “all admitted evidence has been considered,” especially in light of the lack of an opinion from the BIA. Accordingly, we remand this case to the BIA for a decision on Matei’s asylum eligibility that properly considers his objective fear of future persecution. The IJ appears not to have determined whether Matei has a subjective fear of persecution. Such a determination should also be made on remand if the BIA determines that Matei has shown objective fear. ... [W]e are not convinced that Matei received full and fair consideration of the circumstances giving rise to his claims of persecution upon return. Thus, on remand, the BIA should determine whether the requirements for withholding of removal have been satisfied."

[Hats off yet again to Raed Gonzalez!]