Law School Case Brief
Yonis Ahmed Ali v. Barr - 924 F.3d 983 (8th Cir. 2019)
An appellate court reviews the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) decision to deny a motion to reopen for an abuse of discretion, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has held when the BIA does not give a rational explanation for its decision or ignores or distorts evidence, it abuses its discretion. The Eighth Circuit has said that the BIA must consider the issues raised and announce its decision in terms sufficient to enable a reviewing court to perceive that it has heard and thought and not merely reacted. The BIA need not list every possible argument for and against its decision, and it need not write an exegesis on every contention.
The Department of Homeland Security charged petitioner Yonis Ahmed Ali with being removable for failing to possess a valid entry document and obtaining an immigration benefit by fraud or material misrepresentation. The Immigration Judge ("IJ") sustained both charges, and, to stave off removal, Ali petitioned for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. He said he feared returning to his native Somalia because of his tribal affiliation and his adoptive father's political beliefs. After finding him not credible, the IJ denied his petition. The Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") affirmed the IJ's decision; the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit denied Ali's subsequent petition for review. More than five years after that denial, Ali filed a motion requesting the BIA to reopen his removal proceedings on the ground that he feared the Somali terrorist organization, Al-Shabaab. He maintained that Al-Shabaab would likely target him when he returned because he was a moderate, Westernized Muslim with a post-graduate degree who had worked in American local government. The BIA denied Ali's motion to reopen, noting that he had not shown why he did not raise his concerns about Al-Shabaab at his March 2010 hearing. Ali filed a petition for review, maintaining that the BIA abused its discretion by failing to give a reasoned decision for its denial of his motion to reopen.
Did the BIA abuse its discretion when it did not address every item of evidence Ali submitted in support of his motion to reopen?
The court denied Ali's petition for review. The court noted that the BIA was required to consider the issues raised and announce its decision in terms sufficient to enable a reviewing court to perceive that it heard and thought and not merely reacted. The BIA was not required, the court observed, to list every possible argument for and against its decision, and it need not write an exegesis on every contention. In Ali's case, the BIA's opinion made clear that it heard and thought and not merely reacted. The BIA provided several cogent reasons for concluding that Ali could have raised his concerns during his initial removal proceedings in 2010. While Ali might disagree with that conclusion, it was a far cry from showing that the BIA abused its discretion.
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