On Petition for Review from the Board of Immigration Appeals.
No. A 215 913 759.
Argued: October 21, 2021
Decided and Filed: November 22, 2021
Before: McKEAGUE, NALBANDIAN, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge. The immigration laws give the Attorney General discretion to
grant asylum to “refugees”—a term that includes those who have suffered persecution in their
home countries because of their political beliefs. Exercising this discretion, the Attorney
General has instructed immigration judges that they generally should deny asylum to refugees
who have suffered past persecution if changed conditions in their countries make future
persecution unlikely. 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(1)(i)(A). This case requires us to consider the type
of evidence that permits the Board of Immigration Appeals to find these disqualifying changed
Even though Jonas Nsongi Mbonga previously suffered political persecution in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied him asylum
because his own political party had since assumed power in the country. The Board reasoned
that this change in the government made any future political persecution unlikely. Nsongi
Mbonga argues that this generic evidence about a national governmental change did not suffice
and that the Board needed to rely on specific evidence tailored to his local situation. His
argument gets things backwards under our caselaw. The Board can find a disqualifying change
in conditions using general evidence showing that the political party that persecuted a refugee
has lost power, which shifts the burden to the refugee to identify specific evidence proving that
persecution still remains likely. Because Nsongi Mbonga did not present such evidence, we
deny his petition for review.