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Mirisawo v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
599 F.3d 391 (2010)


Facts

Rosemary Mirisawo (plaintiff), a native and citizen of Zimbabwe, entered the United States in 1999 on a nonimmigrant employment visa to work as a housekeeper and left her four children with her brother and sister in Zimbabwe to do so. In 2002, Mirisawo returned to Zimbabwe for a month to visit her family. Several months earlier, Mirisawo’s brother, Tobias, had been severely beaten for opposing the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. While in Zimbabwe, Mirisawo stayed with her sister to avoid being associated with Tobias’ activities. At the same time, Mirisawo purchased a home in Zimbabwe for Tobias and her children to live in. In May 2005, the Mugabe government destroyed thousands of homes and buildings in response to those citizens who opposed him. One of the homes almost completely destroyed belonged to Mirisawo. Three months prior to the expiration of her visa, Mirisawo filed an application for asylum with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Thereafter, Mirisawo’s visa expired and DHS initiated proceedings to remove her from the country. The immigration judge denied Mirisawo’s application for asylum on the ground that the destruction of her Zimbabwe home did not amount to past persecution because Mirisawo had never lived in the residence nor relied upon it for her livelihood. The judge further concluded that Mirisawo would not suffer future persecution if she returned to Zimbabwe based on the fact that she had not been harassed during her previous visit and that Mirisawo’s brother, sister, and children had not been harmed since Tobias’ beating in 2002. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the judge’s order. Mirisawo filed a petition against Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, appealing the decision of the BIA.

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Holding and Reasoning (Niemeyer, J.)

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