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Kamar v. Sessions

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

November 17, 2017

Olga Jad Kamar, Petitioner,
Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General, Respondent.

         On Petition for Review from the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A 096 419 405.

         ON BRIEF:

          George P. Mann, Maris J. Liss, GEORGE P. MANN AND ASSOCIATES, Farmington Hills, Michigan, for Petitioner.

          John F. Stanton, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

          Before: MERRITT, MOORE, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges



         Petitioner Olga Jad Kamar filed an application for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act and protection under the Convention Against Torture. The Immigration Judge denied the application and ordered her removed from the United States to Jordan, or in the alternative, to Lebanon. The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed her appeal and denied her motion to remand based on changed country conditions. This petition for review followed.

         The issue is whether a woman who will either be subject to an "honor killing, " or alternatively, "protective custody" in Jordan is entitled to relief. For the reasons set forth below, we GRANT the petition for review and REMAND the case to the Board for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Kamar is a native of Lebanon and a citizen of Jordan. She was born in Lebanon in 1964, but moved to Jordan as a young child. Kamar and her family are Catholic, but adhere to Islamic cultural practices and societal traditions. Kamar's mother and sister are United States citizens. Her mother lives in Jordan and her sister lives in New Orleans. Kamar's other siblings and cousins live in Jordan.

         Kamar was admitted to the United States as a B-2 visitor in June 1999. She changed her status to an F-1 student in January 2001 to pursue a master's degree. Kamar's F-1 status was terminated when she became pregnant and left school. Kamar has three sons with her husband from her first marriage, which ended in divorce in 2006. Their three sons live in Canada with their father. In 2007, Kamar became pregnant again. She married her second husband two months before her child was born. The child is a United States citizen and is now ten years old. Kamar has no relationship with her second husband and has an order of protection against him.

         B. Procedural Background

         On October 12, 2007, the Department of Homeland Security charged Kamar as removable pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(C)(1) because she failed to comply with the conditions of her F-1 student status. Kamar conceded removability. She filed an application for withholding of removal pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act ("Act"), protection under the Convention Against Torture ("Convention"), and voluntary departure in the alternative.[1] In her application, Kamar alleged that if she returned to Jordan, under Islamic tradition, she would be subject to an honor killing by her youngest male relative for bringing shame to her family by getting pregnant out of wedlock.

         There was a merits hearing on Kamar's application on June 8, 2009. At the hearing, Kamar testified that her family did not approve of her divorcing her first husband and conceiving her fourth son while unmarried. She explained that the fact that she married her second husband before giving birth was irrelevant because she got pregnant before marriage. Her brothers have not spoken to her since this occurred.

         Kamar testified that she fears returning to Jordan because her cousins intend to perform an honor killing on her and her child in accordance with Jordanian custom. She explained that even though her family is Catholic, they live in Jordan where the majority of people are Muslim and the law is according to Islamic law. Her family follows the local traditions. In Jordanian society, if a woman shames her family, the solution is to cleanse the family and restore its honor by killing her.

         While Kamar has not had physical contact with her cousins, she testified that she received letters claiming that her cousins want to kill her and that she was told this by numerous relatives and friends. In support, she submitted a letter from her mother dated September 5, 2009, saying that Kamar's first cousin, Alias, is the cousin that is the angriest with her. It stated, "[Alias] told your sisters that he wished God took his life if he did not finish this work. Even if this was the last thing that he would do on this earth, he will kill you for your sisters." The other letter Kamar presented was from Alias. It said, "You understand what the punishment is for a girl like you, who brings shame upon our family. Your day of punishment is coming and with God's blessing it will be very soon."

         Kamar testified that if she attempted to seek help from the Jordanian government, it would place her in prison and place her son in an orphanage for protection. She said she could not relocate in Jordan, because it is a small country where everyone knows each other. Also, she is well known in the country because she used to be a teacher there and had a business. Kamar testified that she could not alternatively move to Lebanon because she does not have a visa to be admitted into any other country. Additionally, she stated that she has not been to Lebanon since she was one year old and was not allowed to visit when she once attempted.

         Mona, Kamar's sister who is also divorced, testified that their family did not like the fact that she was divorced either, but had come to accept it. However, she said that because Kamar became pregnant outside of marriage, their cousins would kill her to restore their family's honor. She explained that it did not matter that Kamar subsequently married her second husband because Alias believes that Kamar cheated on her first husband with her second husband. This is due to a rumor spread by Kamar's first husband's family that reached Jordan. Mona asserted that if Kamar returned to Jordan, their cousins would find out and be waiting for her at the airport.

         1. The First Decision and Appeal

         On September 30, 2009, the Immigration Judge ("IJ") determined that Kamar was not credible and denied her application. Kamar appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals ("Board"). The Board overturned the IJ's decision on August 3, 2012, finding that the overall adverse credibility finding was clearly erroneous. It remanded the case to allow the IJ to reconsider Kamar's applications and ordered further fact-finding since the IJ's previous analysis did not treat Kamar's testimony as credible.[2]

         2. The Second ...

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