9th Circ. Halts Deportation of Harvard Grad

PASADENA, Calif. (CN) – A Filipino graduate of Harvard and doctoral candidate in political science will have deportation proceedings against him reopened, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

Mark Farrales was 12 when his family left the Philippines in 1990, after his father, a candidate for public office, was shot and wounded outside the family home. They came to the United States, but in 1998 were ordered removed for overstaying their visas.

Farrales, though, did not leave. Instead, he graduated as valedictorian of his Los Angeles high school, magna cum laude from Harvard in 2001, and then attended the University of California, San Diego, where he earned a master’s degree in political science. His scholarship has been devoted to examining corruption in his native country and he was on track to earn a doctorate from UC San Diego in 2011.

However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained him in 2010, and the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected his motion to reopen and a motion for reconsideration on the grounds that his petition from the 1998 removal proceedings was untimely.

In an unpublished order issued Dec. 23, a Ninth Circuit panel disagreed, writing that Farrales’ petition defeats the timeliness bar because he has demonstrated changed circumstances in the Philippines.

“Farrales submitted a personal declaration and Freedom House reports that demonstrate a substantial increase in political violence and decrease in political freedom in the Philippines between 1998 and 2010,” the panel wrote. “Moreover, Farrales also provided extensive documentary evidence, including news articles and a transcript from a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, of an increase in political violence and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, especially against those who criticize governmental corruption.”

Because such evidence was not available in 1998, it counts as material evidence. Farrales also presented evidence of changed personal circumstances, the panel found.

“By the time he filed his first motion to reopen, Farrales was a Ph.D. candidate in political science whose scholarship often criticized governmental corruption in the Philippines,” the panel wrote. “Because these changes in Farrales’ personal circumstances made the increased political violence against critics of the government in the Philippines relevant to him, the BIA abused its discretion in refusing to consider Farrales’ change in personal circumstances since 1998.”

Leon Hazany in Los Angeles represented Farrales. He did not return a call requesting comment.

A representative with Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment.

Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Atsushi Wallace Tashima and Richard Paez made up the panel.

 

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