Pius Ohiolei AILEMAN, Petitioner, v. Jeffrey A. ROSEN, Acting Attorney General, Respondent.
Decided: December 30, 2020
Before: McKEOWN and VANDYKE, Circuit Judges, and KENDALL,** District Judge.
Kari Elisabeth Hong, Attorney, Boston College Law School, Newton, MA, for Petitioner Sarah Abigail Byrd, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC, Chief Counsel ICE, Office of the Chief Counsel, Department of Homeland Security, San Francisco, CA, for Respondent
Petitioner Pius Aileman seeks review of a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals denying his petition to reopen his deportation proceedings to apply for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). See 8 C.F.R. § 1208.17(a). Aileman presents a number of claims in his motion to reopen his deportation proceedings. He first argues that he needs protection from the Nigerian government as they have criminalized his status as a gay man and would seek to arrest, prosecute, and impose a 14-year prison sentence on that basis. Second, Aileman argues that he is likely to be tortured in Nigeria because of his involvement in drug trafficking and connections with prominent Nigerian political figures. The parties are familiar with the facts, so we do not repeat them here. This Court has jurisdiction to review the BIA's decision under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(1), which allows for judicial review of a final order of removal. We affirm.
Denials of motions to reopen are generally reviewed for abuse of discretion. I.N.S. v. Doherty, 502 U.S. 314, 323–24, 112 S.Ct. 719, 116 L.Ed.2d 823 (1992); Shouchen Yang v. Lynch, 822 F.3d 504, 508 (9th Cir. 2016). The Court defers to the Board's exercise of discretion unless its decision “is ‘arbitrary, irrational, or contrary to law.’ ” Yan Rong Zhao v. Holder, 728 F.3d 1144, 1147 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Chang Hua He v. Gonzales, 501 F.3d 1128, 1131 (9th Cir. 2007)).
The BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying Aileman's petition to reopen his deportation proceedings and properly found that Aileman did not establish prima facie eligibility for CAT protection. The evidence Aileman submitted is contradictory and does not support the conclusion that he had an objective fear of torture in Nigeria on the basis of his sexual orientation or his involvement with former Nigerian politicians and their criminal enterprises. The Board considered all evidence and reasonably found that it did not support the proposition that he would more likely than not be tortured on these bases. Cf. Konstantinova v. I.N.S., 195 F.3d 528, 529 (9th Cir. 1999) (“The BIA abuses its discretion when it fails to offer a reasoned explanation for its decision, distorts or disregards important aspects of the alien's claim.”).
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