Unpublished Disposition, 868 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1984)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 868 F.2d 1273 (9th Cir. 1984)

Fathi Ahmad Said QUTAMI; Mariam F.A.S. Qutami and AhmadA.F.S. Qutami, Petitioners,v.IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERVICE, Respondent.

No. 88-7084.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Submitted*  Nov. 28, 1988.Decided Feb. 3, 1989.

Before BRUNETTI, KOZINSKI and DAVID R. THOMPSON, Circuit Judges.


MEMORANDUM** 

Fathi A.S. Qutami, his wife, Mariam F.A.S. Qutami and his 22-year-old son, Ahmad A.F.S. Qutami, petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) denial of their application for asylum and withholding of deportation. The Qutamis are citizens of Jordan. Each was admitted to the United States as a non-immigrant visitor in 1983. On August 30, 1984, they were ordered to show cause why they had stayed longer than permitted. At a deportation hearing, the Qutamis conceded deportability and requested asylum and withholding of deportation. The immigration judge (IJ) denied the requested relief and granted voluntary departure. The BIA affirmed and dismissed the Qutamis' appeal.

The Qutamis have filed a timely petition for review. They contend that they are entitled to asylum because the BIA's decision that the Qutamis did not establish a well-founded fear of persecution within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a) is not supported by substantial evidence. They also contend that they are entitled to mandatory relief under 8 U.S.C. § 1253(h) because they have met the burden of proving a clear probability of persecution if forced to return to Jordan.

* ASYLUM

In order to qualify for asylum, an alien must establish that he is a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Act. Cardoza-Fonseca v. INS, 767 F.2d 1448, 1451 (9th Cir. 1985), aff'd, 480 U.S. 421 (1987). A refugee is an alien who is unwilling or unable to return to his native country because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a) (42) (A), quoted in Cardoza-Fonseca, 767 F.2d at 1451. An applicant for relief bears the burden of proving both that he or she fears being singled out for persecution on account of the listed factors and that this fear is well-founded. Cardoza-Fonseca, 767 F.2d at 1453. This court reviews decisions denying asylum under a two-tier standard. Bolanos-Hernandez v. INS, 767 F.2d 1277, 1282 n. 9 (9th Cir. 1984). First, the court must determine whether substantial evidence supports the BIA's determination that the alien has failed to prove refugee status on the basis of a well-founded fear of persecution. Id. Second, if refugee status is established, the decision to grant or deny asylum is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Id. Here, because the Qutamis fail to show that they have a well-founded fear of persecution, they do not meet the definition of refugees and so, the court need not reach the second step of this review process.

The Qutamis allege that they have a well-founded fear of persecution in Jordan because they are Palestinians with Jordanian citizenship who were born outside Jordan and so are treated as second-class citizens. In support of this allegation, Fathi Qutami testified that he could not secure a teaching job in government schools, he received less favorable job assignments in Jordan because he was born in Palestine, and he had been denied at least two jobs because he is Palestinian. However, he also testified that he had obtained a job in a private school in Jordan as a teacher administrator from 1981-83. Fathi Qutami's testimony primarily concerned economic deprivation he suffered in Jordan. He also testified that all Palestinians experience prejudice. Generalized testimony on employment discrimination does not prove a well-founded fear of persecution. Raass v. INS, 692 F.2d 596 (9th Cir. 1982) (asylum relief depends on something more than generalized economic disadvantage).1 

The Qutamis also allege a fear of persecution based on the fact that upon returning to Jordan Ahmad will either have to serve in the Jordanian army or face a jail sentence. However, military service is required of all Jordanian men, and such a requirement does not amount to persecution. See Kaveh-Haghigy v. INS, 783 F.2d at 1323.

Ahmad Qutami testified that he would be singled out for harsh treatment in the army based upon his Palestinian nationality. The basis for this belief was that his cousin had been jailed as the result of his failure to serve in the army. Ahmad Qutami also testified that friends told him that if there was a war, Palestinians were sent to the front first and that those with government connections could avoid military service. Ahmad has never been threatened with harsh treatment by the army. This generalized testimony is insufficient to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. Cardoza-Fonseca, 767 F.2d at 1453 (applicants must point to specific, objective facts that support an inference of past persecution or risk of future persecution. Mere assertions of possible fear are insufficient).

The Qutamis also alleged a fear of persecution based on the fact that Mariam Qutami was receiving good cardiac care in the United States and such treatment in Jordan was only available to government and military personnel. However, Fathi Qutami testified that though treatment in the best Jordanian hospitals was very expensive, Mariam would not be denied treatment at these hospitals because she is Palestinian. Because this testimony only points to economic discrimination, it is not sufficient to merit asylum relief. See Raas, 692 F.2d at 596.

Finally, Fathi Qutami testified that the Qutamis feared reprisals in Jordan for having filed for asylum in this country. Fathi Qutami's testimony was that he feared that "maybe something will happen to me or my family or my son." He also claimed that the Qutamis' passports would be taken away but, again, failed to offer any evidence in support of this assertion. It is the Qutamis' burden to prove that there is some basis in reality for their fear. See Blanco-Comarribas v. INS, 830 F.2d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 1987). Because the Qutamis have not presented any specific facts with objective evidence of past persecution or threats of future persecution because of their asylum application, they have failed to meet this burden. Id.2 

The Qutamis have failed to point to specific evidence that any of them would be singled out for persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a) (42) (A). Accordingly, the BIA's denial of asylum is supported by substantial evidence. See Cardoze-Fonseca, 767 F.2d at 1453.

II

WITHHOLDING OF DEPORTATION

The Qutamis contend that they have met the burden of proving a clear probability of persecution if forced to return to Jordan and are therefore entitled to withholding of deportation as a matter of law. This contention lacks merit.

Aliens seeking withholding of deportation must demonstrate a clear probability that their lives or freedom would be threatened on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. INS v. Stevic, 467 U.S. 407 (1984). The application for withholding of deportation must be "supported by evidence establishing that it is more likely than not the alien would be subject to persecution." Stevic, 467 U.S. at 424. This court reviews the denial of an application for prohibition against deportation under the substantial evidence standard. Bolanos-Hernandez v. INS, 767 F.2d 1277, 1282 n. 8 (9th Cir. 1984).

Because the Qutamis are required to allege specific facts and concrete evidence to demonstrate the persecution they face as individuals, rather than evidence of general conditions that affect the entire nation, the BIA's determination that the Qutamis' evidence did not rise to this higher standard of proof was supported by substantial evidence. See Blanco-Comarribas v. INS, 830 F.2d 1039, 1041; Damaize-Job v. INS, 787 F.2d 1332, 1335 (9th Cir. 1986).

The petition for review is DENIED.

 *

The panel unanimously finds this case suitable for disposition without oral argument. Fed. R. App. P. 34(a); 9th Cir.R. 34-4

 **

This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by 9th Cir.R. 36-3

 1

Qutami testified that his extended family is not involved in any political activity nor have any of them been imprisoned or threatened in any way. Qutami also testified that his brothers, sisters and parents have remained in Jordan without trouble. This testimony further supports the BIA's conclusion. See Sanchez-Trujillo v. INS, 801 F.2d 1571, 1580 (9th Cir. 1986) (that family remains unharmed in El Salvador suggests no risk of persecution)

 2

Additionally, the Qutamis, in their brief to this court, argue that it is their wish to remain neutral in the conflict in the Middle East that justifies their claim for relief. Because it was not raised below, this claim is not properly before this court. 8 U.S.C. § 1105a(4); Lopez v. INS, 775 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1985). Even if this court were to consider this contention now, it lacks merit

Although open assertions of neutrality may constitute political opinion for which one may be persecuted, an alien must still prove that some threat of persecution on that basis exists. Diaz-Escobar v. INS, 782 F.2d 1488, 1493-94 (9th Cir. 1986). Here, the only testimony on this subject before the IJ is that Fathi Qutami is not interested in politics. He testified that the Qutamis do not wish to participate in the political wars going on in the region. None of them participates in politics or has ever been in jail. The Qutamis have not shown that any of them has openly asserted neutrality or has been threatened with any persecution on that basis. This claim lacks merit. See Turcios v. INS, 821 F.2d 1396, 1402 (9th Cir. 1987); Diaz-Escobar, 782 F.2d at 1493-94.