Matter of J-B-N- & S-M-

24 I & N Dec. 208 (2007)

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Matter of J-B-N- & S-M-

Board of Immigration Appeals
24 I & N Dec. 208 (2007)

Facts

J-B-N- and S-M- (plaintiffs) were both born in Burundi but were Rwandan citizens of Tutsi ethnicity through their parents, who had fled to Burundi as refugees in the 1950s. J-B-N- and S-M- married and moved to Rwanda in 1996. J-B-N-’s uncle gave him some land to enable J-B-N- to build a home. However, after J-B-N-’s uncle died, his aunt took control of the land, stating that J-B-N- was not a part of the extended family. The land that J-B-N-’s uncle deeded him was quite valuable, and J-B-N-’s aunt wanted to sell it for a nice profit. J-B-N- sought to repossess the land legally, and he secured a ruling in his favor. However, J-B-N- received calls for over a year from unknown callers telling him to go back to Burundi. J-B-N- recognized the voice of one caller as his cousin, who was employed as a major in the national police force and who went to J-B-N-’s home on three different occasions with three other officers to pressure J-B-N- and S-M- to go back to Burundi. J-B-N- and S-M- decided to go to the United States and secured visas. However, upon arrival in America, J-B-N- and S-M- learned that their visas had somehow been canceled. J-B-N- believed that his aunt and her family were involved with the cancellations. Both J-B-N- and S-M- indicated that prior to the dispute over the land, J-B-N- had no issues with his aunt or his cousin. J-B-N- and S-M- argued that they had been deprived of the land on account of their imputed Burundi nationality and their membership in the group of refugees who were repatriated. The immigration judge (IJ) denied the request for asylum and withholding of removal, and J-B-N- and S-M- appealed. The IJ held that there was no direct or circumstantial evidence showing that at least one central reason for the harm the applicants suffered at the hands of their relatives was on account of a protected ground. The IJ characterized the matter as a family dispute with no evidence that the applicants were targeted based on their Burundi origins. J-B-N- and S-M- appealed. The Board of Immigration Appeals evaluated the case pursuant to the new standard provided in the REAL ID Act (the act) passed by Congress in 2005 regarding whether an abuser acted on a motivation connected to a protected ground.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

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