(CN) – The 9th Circuit revived the asylum petition of a Haitian man who said he fears persecution and torture because of his criminal status in the United States, and because his father was the former bodyguard of ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Jean Yves Brezilien fled Haiti to the United States in 1991, after insurgent soldiers allegedly killed his father the night before a bloody military coup that overthrew Aristide, the country’s first freely elected president.
Aristide spent several years in exile before returning to Haiti in 1994 to complete his term. After he left office in 1996, he created the political party Lavalas. His party won the 2000 election, and he again served as president from 2001 to 2004, when he was ousted by rebels.
While in the United States, Brezilien pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault toward the mother of his daughter. The pair met in the United States and had a child there. Brezilien said his conviction would expose him to torture in Haiti.
The immigration judge granted Brezilien asylum three times, but each time the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) reversed.
On appeal, the court in San Francisco concluded that the BIA had violated its own regulations by engaging in fact finding, when it should have remanded or deferred to the immigration judge’s conclusions.
“The BIA improperly relied upon its own factual findings to conclude that Brezilien had not established a well-founded fear of future persecution, had not established that it is more likely than not that he will suffer persecution in Haiti, and that he could safely relocate within Haiti to avoid persecution,” Judge Paez wrote.