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Ninth Circuit Grants Petition for Review of BIA Decision

hammer-719068_640Jose L Zumel, an immigrant to the United States from the Philippines, was on September 29 2015 granted a petition for review of the Board of Immigration’s (BIA) decision to find him inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(i)(I), which is a statute regarding the admissibility of foreign nationals who have engaged in terrorist activity.

Engaging in terrorist activity is defined as committing or inciting to commit a terrorist activity “under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily injury”; preparing or planning a terrorist activity; soliciting others to engage in terrorist activity either “in an individual capacity or as a member of an organization”; as well as soliciting individuals for membership in a terrorist organization “unless the solicitor can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the organization was a terrorist organization.”

The BIA claimed Zumel was inadmissible under this statute and dismissed his appeal from the Immigration Judge’s (IJ) order of removal, as it determined that he was involved with unlawfully planning a coup against the Philippine government in 1987. At the time, Zumel was a member of a group called ALTAS, which supported Ferdinand Marcos as President of the Philippines and not his successor, Corazon Aquino. The group was involved in taking over several Air Force bases as well as a television station in Manila, and when warrants went out on the group Zumel went with it underground.

When Zumel applied for adjustment of status in the United States through his daughter in 2001, there was no mention of his activities with ALTAS made on the application, and he was granted the change of status. However, in 2002 he was stopped at the airport and subsequently issued a Notice to Appear, with the charges being that Zumel was an arriving alien subject to removal under 8 U.S.C 1182(a)(3)(B)(i)(I) for engaging in terrorist activities.

In their ruling, the IJ failed to find evidence that Zumel and his fellow coup participants had “intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals” during their activities in the Philippines, and the BIA subsequently failed to apply clear error review on that finding during appeal, so the Ninth Circuit remanded them and granted Zumel’s petition.

If you or someone you know has been denied admission to the United States under Title 8, or if you would like to know more about Title 8 itself, please get in touch with Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm. You can either call 512-215-5225, or contact her via the website.