CHICAGO (CN) – The Seventh Circuit vacated the denial of asylum to a Lebanese man who claimed he faced persecution because he is a Christian and a former member of the Southern Lebanese Army, an Israel-backed group trained to fight members of Hezbollah.
Hanna Youssef Mekhael presented evidence of heightened tensions between Muslims and Christians and between Israel and Hezbollah since his July 2005 hearing, but the Board of Immigration Appeals said the evidence simply “details ongoing problems in Lebanon.” The circuit vacated, saying the BIA failed to properly consider the start of a civil war as a changed circumstance when it deemed Mekhael’s evidence “merely cumulative.”
“Evidence that after the hearing these tensions boiled over into full-scale warfare and deadly street riots was no more ‘cumulative’ of the evidence presented at the hearing than our Civil War was merely ‘cumulative’ evidence of tensions between the North and South that dated back to the constitutional convention of 1787,” Judge Posner wrote. Vacated and remanded. See ruling in Mekhael v. Mukasey.