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CA5 CAT Remand: Abushagif v. Garland

September 24, 2021 (1 min read)

Abushagif v. Garland

"Abushagif contends that the BIA abused its discretion by entirely failing to address his CAT claim. On that point, he is correct. A CAT “claim is separate from . . . claims for asylum and withholding of removal and should receive separate analytical attention.” Efe v. Ashcroft, 293 F.3d 899, 906–07 (5th Cir. 2002). Moreover, the BIA must not leave asserted CAT claims unaddressed. See Eduard v. Ashcroft, 379 F.3d 182, 196 (5th Cir. 2004). The government does not dispute that Abushagif raised a CAT claim in his motion to reopen. The government avers, however, that Abushagif did not present his claim to the Board and thus failed to exhaust it. See 8 U.S.C. § 1252(d)(1). That is flatly incorrect; Abushagif raised his CAT claim several times in his briefing before the BIA. It is confounding that the government says otherwise. The government also contends that remanding the CAT claim would be “futile” because, even if the BIA had addressed it, the Board still would not have granted his motion to reopen, given its determination that Abushagif had generally failed to submit reliable evidence in support of his claims of persecution. That contention, however, cannot overcome the plain command of our caselaw: The Board must address CAT claims where they are raised. See Eduard, 379 F.3d at 196. We therefore remand for the limited purpose of the Board’s addressing Abushagif’s CAT claim."

[Hats off to pro bono publico counsel Alison Caditz and Jeri Leigh Miller!]