Stanojkova v. Holder., No. 10-3327 (7th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Petitioners, husband and wife, are Macedonian Slavs. In 2001 husband was drafted into the Macedonian Army. He refused to report, because he disapproved of government efforts to suppress Albanian demands for greater rights. In 2002 husband and pregnant wife were victims of a home invasion; assailants held a gun and stated that petitioners were "betrayers of Macedonia" and "did not participate in the war." The assailants fondled wife, beat husband, and stole money and jewelry. Police arrived six hours later and implied that the assailants were fellow police, more influential because of their paramilitary character. Petitioners fled, arriving in the United States without a visa. Removal proceedings were instituted. Requests for asylum and other relief were denied. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The Seventh Circuit granted the petition and remanded. Withholding of removal (8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3)) requires a determination that the applicant will more likely than not be subjected to persecution if removed from the United States. A finding of past persecution creates a rebuttable presumption of future persecution. What happened to the petitioners was persecution, not just harassment. The statement that there is no evidence of human rights abuses by the Macedonian army in 2001 ignored the State Department's country report.
The court issued a Revised version of this opinion on August 17, 2011.