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CA1 on Albania, Changed Circumstances: Lucaj v. Wilkinson

March 11, 2021 (1 min read)

Lucaj v. Wilkinson

"To support his case for reopening, Mr. Lucaj submitted an affidavit complaining in particular about two events that occurred after his removal proceeding in 2006: The Socialist party took power in 2013, and then in 2019 the Socialists' corruption and connections with organized crime deterred the opposition party from even participating in the 2019 elections. Mr. Lucaj provided, among other things, the State Department’s 2018 Human Rights Report on Albania, the Freedom House "Freedom in the World 2018" Report on Albania, and articles from 2018 and 2019 about corruption in Albania and the Socialist Party's success in recent elections. We do not know whether those submissions show materially worsening conditions for Democratic Party members in Albania, however, because the BIA refused to compare those reports to available evidence of conditions from 2006, claiming that Mr. Lucaj had not "explained how the proffered . . . country condition documentation show[s] qualitatively different conditions from 2006." Plainly, though, he did so by pointing out the two cited, post-2006 events as evidence of changed conditions. The BIA's failure to assess whether those changes were sufficient was arbitrary and capricious. ... Therefore, we reverse the decision by the BIA and remand Mr. Lucaj's case so that the BIA can review available evidence to examine whether conditions for members of the Democratic Party in Albania have deteriorated since 2006 and, if so, whether Mr. Lucaj has established a prima facie case for relief."

[Hats off to Gregory G. Marotta!]