News From the Courts

Posted on: December 21st, 2017
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Remands Asylum Case to Board of Immigration Appeals to Reconsider Eligibility

Edwin Romero Zombrano, illegally entered the United States in 2011 after serving in the Honduran military, during which he aided the local government in the arrest of members of the “Barrio Pobres” from the 18th street gang. Upon Romero Zombrano’s departure from the military, the gang members sought to track him down, which caused him to frequently change his residence in an attempt to avoid detection.

In 2012, after Romero Zombrano fled Honduras, the gang members, continuing their search for him, broke into the apartments of both his sister and ex-girlfriend inquiring about his whereabouts. Similar attacks persisted over the following year. In 2014, Romero Zombrano was apprehended by immigration authorities in the United States. Once the gang learned of his arrest and impending deportation, its members went so far as to contact his family and friends in three different locations in Honduras, interrogating them about his location. In one such instance, this included them assaulting his brother and tying he and his family members up, demanding they disclose where he was. Another incident occurred wherein masked gang members broke into the home of his brother, questioning him about where Romero Zombrano currently resided.

Once he learned of the assaults, Romero Zombrano filed for asylum. Though his application was filed more than one year after he entered the country, which is usually the time frame in which one must file an asylum application, there is a provision which allows for applicants to file within a “reasonable period” if the individual can demonstrate “the existence of changed circumstances which materially affect the applicant’s eligibility for asylum.”

Romero Zombrano’s central thesis was that the increased severity of attacks which happened after his apprehension constituted a change of circumstances from the attacks perpetrated upon his family before his apprehension. The IJ proceeding over his case rejected his claim and denied his petition for untimeliness, stating that the more recent cases served as supplemental evidence to his claim rather than evidence suggesting increased intensity and thus a change in circumstances. His appeal to the BIA was similarly rejected, after the Board reached a similar conclusion. Though the Board conceded that the attacks were intensified, they still served merely as additional proof of his existing claim rather than a change of circumstances warranting asylum.

The Fourth Circuit, upon appeal, reviewed not the factual argument made by Romero Zombrano, but whether that argument constituted a change of conditions. The Court of Appeals determined that additional evidence of a previous claim which escalates in intensity does constitute a change of conditions. The evidence provided by Romero Zombrano represented to the Court an amplification of the threat he initially put forth, which the Court determined to be a change in conditions. Therefore, the Court granted Romero Zombrano’s petition for review and remanded the case to the BIA for further consideration.

For more information, view the full case.

Back | Index | Next

Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.