Cases & Deals

Pro bono client scores victory before Eighth Circuit on BIA's improper review of Convention Against Torture claim

Clients Kassim, Ahmed Shariif

On April 3, 2020, Jones Day achieved a victory before the Eighth Circuit in an immigration case. The Eighth Circuit's decision, granting in part Ahmed Shariif Kassim's petition for review, gives him an opportunity to pursue his Convention Against Torture ("CAT") claim in the immigration court and receive a fair review of that claim by the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA").

Kassim is a citizen of Somalia who entered the United States as a refugee in 2013. After Kassim pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges, he was detained and placed in removal proceedings. The immigration judge granted relief from removal in the form of a waiver of inadmissibility that would have allowed Kassim to become a lawful permanent resident despite his convictions and, in the alternative, deferral of removal under the CAT. The BIA then reversed on both grounds. Kassim's main argument before the Eighth Circuit was that the BIA misapplied the clear-error standard of review and engaged in impermissible factfinding when it reversed the immigration judge's decision.

In a published opinion written by Judge Stras, the Eighth Circuit granted the petition in part and denied it in part. The panel unanimously concluded that the BIA erred in failing to remand the case to the immigration judge on Kassim's request for CAT relief. The court held that the BIA misapplied the standard of review by attributing a factual finding to the immigration judge and then reviewing the decision on that revised factual basis, instead of remanding for the immigration judge to correct the insufficient factual finding. The panel majority also held that the BIA did not engage in impermissible factfinding on Kassim's waiver-of-inadmissibility claim, though Judge Grasz, in partial dissent, would have granted the petition on that ground as well.

Ahmed Kassim v. William P. Barr, No. 18-3618 (8th Cir.)