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CA7 on Belarus, Changed Conditions: Boika v. Holder

August 21, 2013 (1 min read)

"The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the IJ’s denial of asylum, and we denied Boika’s subsequent petition for review. Boika v. Holder, 418 Fed. App’x. 559 (7th Cir. 2011).

Boika then moved to reopen based on materially changed country conditions. See 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7)(C)(ii). Boika asserted that after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s election in 2010,the Belarusian government’s severe crackdown on political opposition had resulted in widespread human rights abuses. These abuses were serious enough that the United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on the Belarusian government in February 2011. Boika also submitted new corroborating evidence that she has been active in the Belarusian opposition movement while she has been in the United States. 

The Board denied Boika’s motion to reopen, explaining only that the evidence she offered did not reflect a material change in conditions in Belarus and was not sufficient to show a prima facie claim for eligibility for asylum.  We grant Boika’s and her husband’s petition for review and remand to the Board for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.The terse Board opinion did not provide an adequate explanation for rejecting Boika’s new evidence and denying her motion to reopen. The prior credibility finding against Boika regarding her pre‐2007 political opposition inside Belarus does not necessarily taint her new evidence concerning both her new political activity in the United States or the new, severe crackdown on the government’s political opponents in Belarus. That evidence needs a fresh look." - Boika v. Holder, Aug. 16, 2013.  [Hats off to Alexander J. Segal!]