Arsen Vardanyan v. William Barr

NOT FOR PUBLICATION FILED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS OCT 16 2020 MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT ARSEN VARDANYAN, No. 19-72580 Petitioner, Agency No. A215-911-366 v. MEMORANDUM* WILLIAM P. BARR, Attorney General, Respondent. On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Argued and Submitted October 5, 2020 Pasadena, California Before: M. SMITH and OWENS, Circuit Judges, and CARDONE,** District Judge. Arsen Vardanyan, a native of the former Soviet Union and citizen of Armenia, petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) order dismissing his appeal from an immigration judge’s (IJ) decision denying asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. ** The Honorable Kathleen Cardone, United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas, sitting by designation. (CAT). The parties are familiar with the facts, so we do not recite them here, except as necessary to provide context to our ruling. We have jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252. We review the BIA’s legal conclusions de novo and its factual findings for substantial evidence. Singh v. Whitaker, 914 F.3d 654, 658 (9th Cir. 2019) (citing Ali v. Holder, 637 F.3d 1025, 1028–29 (9th Cir. 2011)). Applying the substantial evidence standard, we uphold the agency’s determination unless “compelled to conclude to the contrary.” Id. (quoting Ali, 637 F.3d at 1029). And if the BIA relies in part on the IJ’s reasoning, we review both decisions. Singh v. Holder, 753 F.3d 826, 830 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Flores-Lopez v. Holder, 685 F.3d 857, 861 (9th Cir. 2012)). We grant the petition in part, deny the petition in part, and remand. 1. Vardanyan argues the BIA erred in finding that the government established a fundamental change in country conditions warranting his removal. It is undisputed that Vardanyan experienced past persecution and is entitled to the presumption of a well-founded fear of future persecution. See Parada v. Sessions, 902 F.3d 901, 911 (9th Cir. 2018) (citing 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(1)). Where the government seeks to rebut a presumption of well-founded fear through evidence of changed country conditions, “the IJ must make an ‘individualized determination’ of how the changed circumstances affect the alien’s specific situation.” Id. at 912 (quoting Ali, 637 F.3d at 1030). “The hallmark of an ‘individualized determination’ 2 is a tailored analysis of the petitioner’s specific harms and circumstances.” Ali, 637 F.3d at 1030. While information about country-wide conditions may be useful and, even decisive, such information is not sufficient on its own. See id. Rather, “the IJ and BIA must apply the findings from the reports to the petitioner’s specific harms and circumstances.” Id. (citations omitted). Here, the IJ and BIA failed to analyze Vardanyan’s specific circumstances in finding a fundamental change in circumstances. The IJ relied on evidence that “[Vardanyan’s] previous persecutors [were] no longer the dominant political party.” The IJ found ...

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