On August 3, 2016, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) dismissed the appeal of a respondent denied release on bond. The Appellant, a conditional resident, had come to DHS attention after information was received that his Syrian passport was fraudulent. Initially, he told Homeland Security that his father had procured the document for him but, after returning from a trip to Turkey, he changed his story, admitting “that he obtained the passport in an improper manner through unofficial channels”.
A Notice To Appear (NTA) was issued charging respondent as removable under INA §237(a)(1)(A) as inadmissible at the time of adjustment of status; he requested a bond hearing.
The Immigration Judge (IJ), using DHS forensic lab evidence, found the document was a “stolen blank” that had come from a series of Syrian passports stolen by operatives of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The IJ also held that respondent knew the document was not legitimately procured and had made misrepresentations to DHS about it. Thus, bond was denied under INA 236(a) because, the IJ found, he is a danger to the community and a flight risk. Respondent argued on appeal to the Board that the information relied upon by the IJ was insufficient to support a bond denial.
The BIA decision first noted the general rule that one seeking a change in custody status must establish that he or she is not a threat to national security, a danger to the community at large, likely to abscond, or otherwise a poor bail risk; additionally, found the BIA, national security concerns are fundamental to such adjudications, as are considerations of dangerousness in the criminal context.
The Board’s opinion also emphasized that in determining whether to set bond, the IJ may rely on any evidence in the record that is probative and specific. Here, the BIA minimized respondent’s arguments that there is no evidence that he knew the passport was stolen by terrorists nor are there any known links between him and a terrorist organization; the decision held that circumstances surrounding respondent’s use of this passport gave the IJ ample reason to deny the bond request. The Board also found that the “added dimension” of the involvement of a terrorist organization raised the issue of respondent posing a national security risk. Finally, in upholding the IJ’s determination that the evidence is insufficient to show that, based on the totality of facts and circumstances, respondent is not a danger to the community, the Board held that here the circumstantial evidence, combined with respondent’s fraud, raises significant safety and security concerns justifying continued detention. Matter of Fatahi, 26 I&N Dec. 791(BIA 2016).
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