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Bhargava v. Attorney General of the United States

July 1, 2010

KUMAR BHARGAVA, PETITIONER
v.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, RESPONDENT



PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS (Agency No. A95-592-373) Immigration Judge: Charles M. Honeyman.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barry, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) -- May 14, 2010

Before: BARRY, ROTH, Circuit Judges and DALZELL,*fn1District Judge

OPINION OF THE COURT

8 C.F.R. § 208.24(a)(1) provides that "an asylum officer may terminate a grant of asylum made under the jurisdiction of an asylum officer or a district director if following an interview, the asylum officer determines that . . . [t]here is a showing of fraud in the alien's application such that [the alien] was not eligible for asylum at the time it was granted." That regulation, however, is silent with respect to review by an immigration judge of an asylum officer's termination of asylum. Rather, in circumstances such as those in this case, where the alien is not already in removal proceedings, 8 C.F.R. § 208.24(e) instructs the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") to "initiate removal proceedings, as appropriate."

The sole question before us is whether the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") erred in affirming the Immigration Judge's ("IJ") decision that he lacked jurisdiction to review DHS's termination of petitioner's asylum status. Because that conclusion was not arbitrary or capricious nor plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation at issue, we will deny the petition for review.

I.

Ashok Kumar Bhargava is a native and citizen of India. He was granted asylum by an asylum officer -- not an immigration judge -- in September 2002.

In February 2004, Bhargava was served with Notice of Intent to Terminate Asylum Status. That notice informed Bhargava that DHS "obtained evidence that indicates fraud in your application for asylum such that you were not eligible for asylum at the time it was granted," specifically that "[t]he preparers of your application for asylum indicated as a part of a plea agreement that the claims made in the asylum application you submitted were fraudulent, and that the documents you submitted in support of your testimony as having been tortured were counterfeit." (A1.)

Following a termination interview, DHS, in February 2005, notified Bhargava that his asylum status was terminated and served him with a Notice to Appear, placing him in removal proceedings. Bhargava moved before the IJ to terminate the removal proceedings and to certify his case to the BIA. The IJ denied both motions. In so doing, the IJ held "that [he] does not have jurisdiction to review a termination of asylum status by the asylum office." (A23.) After noting 8 C.F.R. § 208.24's silence on the issue and distinguishing the cases cited by Bhargava, the IJ wrote that he "cannot locate any authority in the Act or in the regulations which gives [him] the authority to review de novo the legal sufficiency of the termination of a grant of asylum and withholding of removal in accordance with the procedures set forth in 8 C.F.R. § 208.24." (A24.) The IJ continued: "It appears to the Court that if Congress, in the Act, or the Attorney General, in the regulations, intended for IJs to have review de novo over the termination of an asylum grant, that language would be specifically included in the Act or the regulations, as it is in other sections." (Id.).

A hearing was subsequently held on the merits of Bhargava's claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ made an adverse credibility determination and held that Bhargava failed to meet his burden of proof. The BIA adopted and affirmed the IJ's decision, including the IJ's determination that he lacked jurisdiction to review the DHS's termination of Bhargava's asylum status.*fn2 It also denied Bhargava's motion to remand, and dismissed the appeal.

II.

Bhargava does not challenge the IJ's and BIA's denial of relief on the merits. Rather, the sole question before us is whether the BIA -- and the IJ before it -- erred in determining that the IJ lacked jurisdiction to review DHS's termination of petitioner's asylum status. We review this question of law de novo. Fadiga v. Att'y Gen., 488 F.3d 142, 153-54 (3d Cir. 2007). ...


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