No Asylum for African Tied to Terrorist Group

     (CN) – An African native who claimed ignorance of his organization’s terrorism must be removed from the United States, the 7th Circuit ruled.
     FH-T joined the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front in 1982 at the age of 15. At the time, Eritrea was involved in a 30-year war for independence from Ethiopia, which it ultimately obtained.
     After the war, the front became the ruling and only political party in the country with a government that required all of its citizens to work for it.
     FH-T was thrown in jail for five months after he voiced his opposition to the so-called “National Service.” After he lost 30 pounds behind bars, he was released and escaped to the United States. The Eritrean government meanwhile arrested FH-T’s father and sister.
     Citing FH-T’s past support for the liberation front, which it lists as a Tier III terrorist organization, a U.S. immigration judge denied the man asylum. The immigration judge ruled that FH-T did not prove ignorance of the terrorist activities.
     While Homeland Security monitors Tier I terrorist organizations, Tier II groups are watched by the State Department.
     Affirming that the decision, the Board of Immigration Appeals would not credit FH-T’s claims that he “only heard that the (front’s members) were attacking the civilian trucks or killing civilians,” as opposed to personally witnessing the acts.
     This claim is belied by FH-T’s testimony that he was present at monthly political indoctrinations.
     FH-T sought review from the 7th Circuit in Chicago to no avail Tuesday.
     “He argues that he has consistently claimed ignorance of any unlawful activity committed by the EPLF, while simultaneously acknowledging his awareness of ‘lawful’ violence undertaken by the EPLF as part of a struggle for independence,” Judge Joel Flaum wrote for a three-member panel.
     “But FH-T’s failure to articulate this novel argument before the board requires us to find that he did not exhaust it, and his claim that he falls under the knowledge exemption to the material support bar must therefore fail,” Flaum added.
     Though FH-T’s argument before the board “appears consistent” with his appellate claim, “it is not enough for the purposes of exhaustion,” the court found.
     “It is not the board’s responsibility to divine and respond to theories that are unformed and lacking in citation to supporting authority,” Flaum wrote.
     The 7th Circuit also ruled against FH-T’s challenge to the board issuing a removal order before the Department of Homeland Security had ruled on his eligibility for an exemption.

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