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Law School Case Brief

Medhin v. Ashcroft - 350 F.3d 685 (7th Cir. 2003)


Whether an asylum applicant has demonstrated past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution is a factual determination reviewed under the substantial evidence standard.


Petitioner alien Medhin, a citizen of Ethiopia was born in the area of the country known as Eritrea. In his petition for asylum and withholding of removal, the alien alleged fears of persecution by the government because of his support of the Unity Party, which opposes the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia. Further, he argues that his ethnicity puts him in danger of deportation. According to a Human Rights Watch Report, 70,000 ethnic Eritreans have been deported since the beginning of the border conflict. The Immigration Judge denied his application. On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals summarily approved the IJ's decision without opinion. The alien sought judicial review of the Board's decision. 


 Based on the evidence presented was Medhin a victim of past persecution in Ethiopia to warrant asylum?




The IJ denied the alien's application for asylum and withholding of removal after determining that the alien was not a victim of past persecution and finding that the alien's fear of future persecution was not objectively reasonable due to the changed conditions in Ethiopia. Substantial evidence supported both determinations. In support of his claim of past persecution, the alien alleged only the loss of one job due to his ethnicity. At most, he suffered discrimination, which was not persecution. Further, the alien's allegation that the police sought him out but did not arrest him did not rise to the level of persecution. While the alien testified that he feared arrest and deportation to Eritrea upon his return to Ethiopia, his claim of a fear of future persecution was unfounded because conditions had changed in Ethiopia since his departure. According to U.S. State Department reports, ethnic persecution against Eritreans had ceased. Further, the fact that the alien's family had managed to avoid persecution in Ethiopia suggested that there was an insufficient likelihood that the alien would be persecuted upon his return. Thus, his claim of future persecution did not warrant asylum.

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