Hurdle Of Showing “changed Conditions Hampers Bid For Asylum

The First Circuit Court of Appeals denied relief to a Sri Lankan woman, Kumudinie Renuka Perera, who has repeatedly sought asylum in the United States on the grounds that she fears she will be persecuted if she is sent back to her home country.

The federal appellate court, in review of a Board of Immigration Appeals decision denying her motion to reopen the case, found in Perera v. Holder, No. 13-1312. (Ct App. 1st Cir. 2014) that she failed to show that changes in conditions and circumstances were sufficient to demonstrate a reassessment of her petition for asylum. The original denial of relief occurred in 2007 after hearings at which the Immigration Judge (IJ) concluded that police in Sri Lanka mistreated her because they sought to extort money from her not because they intended to persecute her for political beliefs. Also she failed to establish, as required, a likelihood she would be subjected to torture if she returned.

In her newest attempt to reopen the matter (she lost an initial motion to reopen the proceedings), she presented evidence of new reports concerning the nature of the regime in Sri Lanka and suggested the authorities there prosecute those who seek asylum in this country.  Included in her submission to the IJ were reports (1) from a 2011 article by Freedom from Torture which suggested that 26 recently-returned failed asylum seekers might be tortured by Sri Lankan officials, (2) another 2011 Amnesty International article expressing the same concern, (3) a 2011 report by the United Nations Committee Against Torture spotlighting “the continued and consistent allegations of widespread use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of persons in Sri Lankan police custody and (4) an additional 2011 report from the Refugee Documentation Centre of Ireland explaining that Sri Lankan officials interviewed deportees on their return to Sri Lanka.

The problem, for purposes of obtaining a reopening of her case, however, stemmed from the view that such reports merely demonstrated the same types of conditions which existed when she applied for asylum previously. The First Circuit ruled that a petitioner who repeatedly seeks to reopen her case has a heavy burden to prove that relevant conditions and circumstances have materially changed. This repeat petitioner failed to meet this high standard of proof in her quest to get her asylum case heard again. By implication, the decision underscores the necessity of presenting proof of new conduct by a regime which places a petitioner’s situation in a novel light.

The Shulman Law Group, LLC has successfully handled and effectuated many asylum cases.  The firm and its staff are well-versed in the nuances and underpinnings of claims of persecution involving individuals from many countries.  What sets our firm apart from other law offices is that we skillfully prepare comprehensive applications that include country reports, autobiographical statements, affidavits from friends, family and colleagues, psychological evaluations, and expert witness testimonials–strategies that predispose the applicant to a higher probability of an approval. Our firm maintains an up-to-date knowledge on the latest case law which affects the manner in which these cases are reviewed.