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Negusie v. Holder

United States Supreme Court
555 U.S. 511 (2009)


Facts

At the age of 18, Daniel Girmai Negusie (plaintiff) left his home country of Ethiopia for Eritrea to see his mother and to find employment. A few months later, Eritrea officials took custody of Negusie and others when they were attending a movie, forced them to perform hard labor for a month, and then forced them to serve in the military. Thereafter, war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea. After Negusie refused to fight against his home country he was incarcerated in an Eritrea prison. Prison guards beat Negusie with sticks and placed him in the hot sun for hours at a time. Negusie was released two years later and forced to work as a prison guard. In that role, Negusie carried a gun, guarded the gate to prevent prisoner escape, and witnessed at least one prisoner die from prolonged exposure to the sun. Negusie eventually escaped from Eritrea by hiding in a container loaded on a ship and bound for the United States. Upon entering the United States, Negusie requested asylum. The immigration judge denied Negusie’s request and held that he had assisted in the persecution of others while serving as a prison guard in Eritrea. Negusie argued that he had been forced to work as a prison guard and did so under duress. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the immigration judge’s order. Negusie appealed the BIA’s decision by filing a petition against Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., in the court of appeals. The appellate court affirmed the judgment of the BIA. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

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