A Senegalese woman and her husband who gained admission into the United States in 2000 and 2001 respectively, but have overstayed their visas, sought to prevent their removal from the country. The wife, Billo Fall, claimed that, because she feared that she and her daughters would be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) if they returned to their home country, she should qualify for Convention Against Torture (CAT). Ms. Fall claimed before the Immigration Judge hearing her case that her aunt was the victim of that procedure and that when she still lived in the country she was attacked because she opposed the practice. She offered such testimony as support for what she asserted was her reasonable fear of persecution.
The Judge did not find this petitioner credible, and noted discrepancies between her application and the testimony. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the lower tribunal’s decision noted that, while Ms. Fall did present proof that she sustained injuries while living in Senegal, she failed to show how the injuries were caused. Also both the Judge and BIA noted that, as her sister’s testimony conflicted with her own, her credibility was negatively tarnished to her case’s detriment.
Furthermore, the Tenth Circuit noted the BIA’s observation that a 2010 State Department Country Report states that “only 28% of girls in Senegal have undergone FGM,” that the prison sentence for FGM is “6 months to 5 years,” and that “the government prosecute[s] violators of the law.” Accordingly, she failed to demonstrate that her fear of persecution if she returned to Senegal was reasonable. For these reasons and other rules concerning the type of issues the federal appellate court may review on appeal, the Tenth Circuit refused to overturn the Judge’s decision (and BIA’s affirmance of that decision).
This case, Fall v. Holder, No. 13-9560 (10th Cir. Ct. App. 2014), illustrates pitfalls which applicants seeking CAT in the United States must avoid. First, they must ensure that the testimony they offer in support of their case is consistent at every stage and that such testimony does not conflict with testimony given by other witnesses which they expect to call before a Judge. Second, they must be mindful of historical evidence concerning developments in their home country. The Judge in this case accepted evidence from the State Department which indicates shifting attitudes and policies in Senegal concerning the practice of FGM. Accordingly, such applicants for asylum, withholding of removal or CAT need legal counsel who will fashion a consistent and coherent case predicated on the latest evidence concerning contemporary conditions in the native country to which the petitioner would have to return.
The Shulman Law Group, LLC has successfully handled and effectuated many asylum, withholding of removal and CAT 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.