Ansly Damus v. Merrick B. Garland

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION File Name: 23a0004n.06 No. 21-4125 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT FILED ) Jan 04, 2023 ANSLY DAMUS, DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk ) Petitioner, ) ) ON PETITION FOR REVIEW v. ) ) FROM THE UNITED STATES ) BOARD OF IMMIGRATION MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General, ) APPEALS Respondent. ) OPINION ) Before: SUTTON, Chief Judge; DONALD and MURPHY, Circuit Judges. MURPHY, Circuit Judge. Ansly Damus, a Haitian, seeks asylum in the United States based on the harm that he suffered in his homeland. Under our asylum laws, however, immigrants may not obtain asylum if they have “firmly resettled” in a different country before they enter the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(2)(A)(vi). And we treat an immigration judge’s decision that an immigrant has “firmly resettled” in another country as a factual finding subject to a deferential standard of review. This standard forecloses Damus’s asylum request here because substantial evidence supported the immigration judge’s finding that he had firmly resettled in Brazil before coming to the United States. That conclusion leaves only Damus’s request for relief under the withholding-of-removal statute, which would permit Damus to remain in this country if his “life or freedom would be threatened” in Haiti as a result of his “political opinion[.]” Id. § 1231(b)(3)(A). Yet we likewise treat a judge’s conclusion that an immigrant would not face that No. 21-4125, Damus v. Garland type of harm as a factual finding. Here again, substantial evidence supported the judge’s decision that Damus had not shown the required likelihood of harm. We thus deny his petition for review. I Damus was born and raised in Haiti. He married a Haitian and had two children, all of whom remain in that country. Damus obtained a position as a teacher in 2007 and taught math and science for the next seven years. In September 2014, Damus held a seminar at his church to teach young people about ethics, morals, and staying out of trouble. During his talk, Damus identified a certain local politician as someone that the youths should not emulate because the politician had become corrupt after his rise to power. This politician’s private supporters—a group called different things in the record, including “La Meezorequin”—learned of Damus’s statements and believed that he had attempted to persuade people not to vote for the politician. According to Damus, members of La Meezorequin attacked him as he traveled to his father’s home after the seminar. Ten days later, Damus fled Haiti. He made his way to Brazil in December 2014. Damus stayed there for a year and a half. After receiving a work permit, Damus took a job as an electrician with a construction firm. Damus eventually entered the United States in October 2016. At the border, he told immigration authorities that he had traveled to this country “[t]o find a better life and find work” and that nobody would harm him if he returned to Haiti. Admin. R. (“A.R.”) 857. Damus backtracked on these …

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