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Immigration Law

CA2 on One Year Filing Deadline, PSG: Ordonez Azmen v. Barr

Ordonez Azmen v. Barr

"Mario Ordonez Azmen petitions for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying his motion to remand and dismissing his appeal of the denial of his asylum and statutory withholding claims under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The BIA did not adequately explain its conclusion that Ordonez Azmen’s proposed social group of former gang members in Guatemala was not particular. Nor did the BIA adequately explain its reasons for denying Ordonez Azmen’s motion to remand based on evidence of new country conditions. Finally, we hold that under 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(2)(D), changed circumstances presenting an exception to the one-year deadline for filing an asylum application need not arise prior to the filing of the application, and the BIA erred when it refused to consider Ordonez Azmen’s alleged changed circumstances on the ground that the change occurred while his application was pending. We GRANT the petition, VACATE the BIA’s decision, and REMAND for reconsideration of Ordonez Azmen’s application for asylum and statutory withholding of removal and his motion to remand, consistent with this opinion."

[Hats off to Zachary A. Albun, Albert M. Sacks Clinical Teaching & Advocacy Fellow, Harvard Immigration & Refugee Clinical Program, Harvard Law School, who writes: "The Court found the INA unambiguously provides that “material changed circumstances” excepting the one year filing deadline need not precede filing of the asylum application (i.e., you can rely on a changes that occur during proceedings).  The court further held that W-G-R- & M-E-V-G- do not create a per se rule that “former gang member” PSGs lack cognizability.  Another important point is that the Court relied on two unpublished BIA decisions that we'd submitted in determining it need not defer to the agency, but instead decide the case based on its own reading of the governing statute and regulations.  Major credit and a huge thanks goes to my co-counsel at the University of Minnesota Federal Immigration & Litigation Clinic and the National Immigrant Justice Center, and to my colleagues and students at HIRC."]