As an immigration attorney, I am a keen observer of judicial decisions, especially in cases with unique circumstances. The case of Fofana v. Holder is just such a case; Moussa Fofana sought asylum in the U.S. based on the Convention Against Torture (CAT). He attested that he had been beaten by security forces in his native Republic of Guinea and feared persecution if returned. The original petition to the immigration judge, appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and his appeal to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court were all denied.
Moussa Fofana originally attempted to enter the U.S. using a false passport and other fraudulent documents. He went before an immigration judge and testified that he was a Malinke, a persecuted ethnic minority. He also stated that he had joined a political party called Rally of People in Guinea (RPG), in which he obtained a leadership position.
He goes on to testify that he was arrested twice by Guinea security forces who beat, abused and stabbed Fofana. After his release, Fofana stated that he sought medical care. It was following this second arrest that he attempted to gain entry to the United States.
The BIA ruled against Fofana on the basis of inconsistent and implausible documentation and testimony. While testifying that his second arrest took place on April 24, 2002, and following his release two weeks later, he sought treatment from a physician, he submitted a document claiming he received medical treatment on May 22, 2002. Fofana attempted to correct this inconsistency by stating he had actually visited two doctors. The submitted document also did not indicate that Fofana had been stabbed by police, but rather had received an assault and battery.
Furthermore, Fofana stated that the arrests occurred in the aftermath of the national presidential referendum. News reports, however, record the referendum occurring in 2001, a year before of the events described by Fofana. A final contributing factor to the appeals denial was Fofana’s demeanor throughout the proceedings. When asked simple questions, Fofana often responded evasively and became verbally combative.
The Eighth Circuit Court based its decision on the factual findings of BIA, which could not be refuted by the appellant. The inconsistencies in testimony and documentation which led to the decision by the IJ and BIA were not refuted in the testimony to the circuit court. Furthermore, the credibility finding used to make prior decisions was upheld to be admissible and pertinent.
The immigration system is a complex one, but there are a number of important lessons to be learned from cases like Fofana v. Holder. First, be sure of your facts. Secondly, provide documentation that supports your story. Finally, your character is as an important an issue as the facts of the case.
If you would like to discuss your case, my office can be reached at (512) 215-5225.