Thursday, August 26, 2021
Circuit Judge Appointed by Ronald Reagan Finds that IJ and BIA "Nitpicked" in Adverse Credibility Determination in Asylum Case
Lauren Berg of Law360 reports on an interesting asylum case. In Munyuh v. Garland, Judge Danny J. Boggs, sitting by designation from the Sixth Circuit (and a 1986 appointee of President Ronald Reagan), joined by Judges A. Wallace Tashima and Marsha S. Berzon, found that the vacated the denial of an asylum claim of a rape survivor from Cameroon. The court granted Munyuh’s petition for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals denying asylum and related relief on adverse credibility grounds, vacated the order of removal, and remanded for further proceedings. The panel held that the immigration judge erred by failing to give specific, cogent reasons for rejecting Munyuh’s reasonable, plausible explanations for the discrepancies tied to her declaration concerning the distance she traveled in a police truck before escaping on foot after officers raped her and being rescued by her husband. The panel held that the immigration judge further erred by discounting Munyuh’s supporting documentation without giving her adequate notice and opportunity to provide corroborative evidence
Judge Boggs concludes the opinion as follows:
"Ms. Munyuh’s case concerns us. From our reading of the record, the IJ seemed determined to pick every nit she could find. Besides erring procedurally, the IJ discounted probative evidence on flimsy grounds and displayed a dubious understanding of how rape survivors ought to act. Although we give great deference to the IJ as factfinder, substantial-evidence review does not require us to credit the credibility finding of an IJ who cherry-picks from—or misconstrues—the record to reach it. The IJ must consider the `totality of the circumstances, and all relevant factors.' 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(iii) (emphasis added).
At the very least, the two legal errors we have identified warrant remand. The IJ erred by failing to give specific, cogent reasons for rejecting Ms. Munyuh’s reasonable, plausible explanations for the discrepancies tied to her declaration that the police truck broke down after only four or five kilometers. And she further erred by discounting the supporting documentation without giving Ms. Munyuh adequate notice and opportunity to provide corroborative evidence. We therefore vacate the removal order and remand the case to the Board for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."