(CN) – The 7th Circuit reinstated an Ethiopian woman’s petition for asylum, ruling that the immigration judge failed to fully analyze her family ties. She allegedly belongs to a tribe linked to the former military regime whose members are now in exile.
Antchineche Tsegaw Ayele is an ethnic Amhara, a tribe associated with the Mengistu regime which ruled Ethiopia before its overthrow by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front.
The Mengistu regime has been accused of confiscating property and killing thousands of dissidents since it came into power in 1974.
During the revolution in 1991, members of the old regime and their families fled into exile, including Ayele.
Her parents were members of the Workers’ Party of Ethiopia, which was Mengistu’s political party.
Ayele was 15 when her family arrived in Kenya, where they were allegedly harassed by Ethiopian infiltrators. Ayele fled to the United States in 1992. She said her father was captured by the ruling party, imprisoned for two years, interrogated and tortured. Two of her uncles were similarly targeted, according to Ayele.
The immigration judge found Ayele’s testimony credible and her subjective fear of future persecution reasonable, but ruled that she failed to prove her fear was objectively reasonable. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the judge’s denial of her petition for asylum.
The federal appeals court in Chicago vacated and remanded.
“We believe the [immigration judge] did not fully analyze Ayele’s family ties claim because he failed to address whether her family constituted a social group, did not discuss the treatment of her mother and uncles, and relied on Country Reports to deny her claim despite finding Ayele and her witness credible,” Judge Williams concluded.