Shaker Ullah v. Merrick Garland, No. 22-1026 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
The United States’ war in Afghanistan required regional allies willing to aid the effort. One such ally was Petitioner, a Pakistani businessman who sold supplies to coalition forces. This invoked the wrath of the Pakistani Taliban, which demanded exorbitant payments from Petitioner under threat of death. Petitioner repeatedly refused, and the Taliban attempted to carry out its threat, promising to hunt him until it succeeded. After losing his business, home, and nearly his life, Petitioner fled to the United States seeking asylum. The Immigration Judge and Board of Immigration Appeals both recognized that Petitioner suffered past persecution, entitling him to a presumption that the Taliban would continue to target him if he returned to Pakistan. But they agreed with the government that because Petitioner lived in Islamabad (the capital of Pakistan) for a few weeks without the Taliban finding him, he could live in a new area of the country without fear of reprisal.
The Fourth Circuit granted Petitioner’s petition for review, reversed the Board’s denial of Petitioner’s preserved claims, and remanded with instructions that the agency grant relief. The court explained that Petitioner’s brief sojourn to Islamabad—where he never left the house— doesn’t rebut the presumption that a notorious terrorist organization continues to imperil his life. The court granted relief since the record would compel any reasonable adjudicator to conclude Petitioner faces a well-founded threat of future persecution.