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In today’s economic climate certified legal document translation services for immigration are often required to obtain EB-5 immigrant investor visas. On the other hand, legal translation services are also required for Individuals who are facing removal for overstaying their visas in the U.S. and are applying for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Below is an example of one such case.

In Luchina v. U.S. Attorney General, Court No. 15-015969, decided by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on May 9, 2017 [unpublished case], a citizen of Moldova petitioned the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) after the Immigration Judge denied her application for withholding of removal pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The petitioner claimed that as a result of her Romani (gypsy) ethnicity, she had been persecuted while living in Moldova and would be persecuted again if she returned. The petitioner came to the United States in 2009 and had authorization to remain in the U.S. until September of 2009. The petitioner did not return to Moldova and in 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) served her with a notice to appear on the grounds that she had overstayed her visa.

Although she conceded removability, the petitioner filed an application for withholding of removal in 2013. In her application, she claimed that she had been discriminated against and had endured and threats by the Moldova government and its citizens as a result of her ethnicity. At the hearing on her application for withholding the removal, the petitioner testified primarily through a legal interpreter and relayed some compelling information about her life experiences in Moldova.

Specifically, the petitioner stated that people in her village called her derogatory names as a child because her father is of Romani ethnicity while her mother is Moldovan. One day, when she was five or six years old, a member of the Moldovan military picked her up and threw her into the water, stating that “even if she’s going to drown, there’s not much of a loss. One gypsy more, one gypsy less, that doesn’t count.” She also testified that on other occasions, military personnel took her bike from her, pushed her down, and spat on her because of her ethnicity. In school, kids would push her, drag her hair, trip and kick her. When she when attended the Technical University of Moldova, she was beaten severely by two police officers who told her that “dirty gypsies” had no place in the city and that she should go back to her village and “milk cows.”

The petitioner came to the United States on a J-1 non-immigrant visitor visa in 2009. She was arrested in 2011 for participating in a prostitution ring and although she was acquitted of all charges, she made news back in Moldova and her brother was beaten up by a police officer and told that it would not be good for her to return. The petitioner testified at the hearing that she feared for her life if she was required to return to Moldova. In addition to her testimony, the petitioner submitted the State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Moldova which stated that Roma were one of the most vulnerable minority groups in the country. She also submitted a news article from the BBC about an Amnesty International report that described discrimination against the Roma people in Europe as “shocking.”

Despite her testimony, the IJ denied the petitioner’s application for withholding of removal, ordering her return to Moldova. The IJ found that the petitioner had not met her burden of establishing the threat of future persecution and that her testimony lacked credibility. The IJ also determined that the level of discrimination in Moldova did not amount to a pattern and practice of persecution in which the government was complicit and noted that the evidence showed that the government had taken steps to improve relations between Roma communities and public authorities. The IJ noted that her family had lived in Moldova since at least 2003 without any significant harm. The petitioner then appealed the IJ’s decision, but the BIA adopted and affirmed that IJ’s decision.

The petitioner then appealed the decision in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the 11th Circuit, “in order to be eligible for withholding of removal under the INA, the application must show that her life or freedom would be threatened in the proposed country of removal on account of her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Id., citing 8 C.F.R. Section 208,16(b). The court found several problems with the petitioner’s appeal. First, the 11th Circuit held that the petitioner had failed to challenge the IJ’s adverse credibility determinations against her in both her notice of appeal and appeal brief. Thus, the court found that because she had failed to exhaust “all administrative remedies available” as a matter of right, the court lacked jurisdiction to consider this issue on appeal. Id. As to the petitioner’s claims of past persecution, the court held that the petitioner did not offer any evidence to substantiate her testimony about mistreatment. Instead, her claim was based almost entirely on her own testimony.

Finally, with regard to future persecution, the petitioner argued that she had established a clear probability that her life or freedom would be threatened because of her Roma ethnicity. The petitioner asserted that her testimony, in conjunction with the country-conditions evidence, demonstrated a system of pervasive abuse against the Roma population which the Moldovan government was unwilling (or unable) to prevent. The 11th Circuit rejected this argument. The court noted that “[o]ur case law establishes that persecution is an extreme concept that does not include every sort of treatment our society regards as offensive.” Id, citing Shi v. U.S. Att’y Gen., 707 F.3d 1231, 1235 (11th Cir. 2013). The court found that the record did not establish a conclusion that the petitioner would be singled out for future persecution on the basis of her ethnicity because the only incidents from her testimony that suggested she might be personally targeted upon return were the attacks against her brother and father and that the attacker’s threat of future harm was “vague.” The court reasoned that the IJ’s determination on the petitioner’s “pattern and practice” claim was consistent with the holdings in other circuit courts, citing Gilca v. Holder, 680 F.3d 109, 117 (1st Cir. 2012) (holding that the record supported the agency’s finding that there was ‘no universal and systematic mistreatment’ of the Roma in Moldova); Georgieva v. Holder, 751 F.3d 514, 523 (7th Cir. 2014) (upholding the agency’s finding of no pattern or practice of discrimination against the Roma in Bulgaria, despite similar evidence that the Roma were “victims of pervasive discrimination in employment, education, health care, and housing, and are occasionally the targets of ‘violence.”).

Based on the foregoing, the court denied the petitioner’s challenge to the agency’s denial of her application for withholding of removal.

Contact All Language Alliance, Inc. to obtain certified legal document translation services for immigration from Arabic, Romanian, Greek, Mandarin, Somali, Cantonese, Turkish, and other languages to English.

* This legal translation blog article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal needs.*

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