Oshodi V. Holder, Nigerian Asylum Respondent in Removal Proceedings

Oshodi v. Holder, Filed August 27, 2013.

The Los Angeles based US Immigration lawyers at JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office read this unique case in which a respondent in removal proceedings petitioning for asylum from his home country of Nigeria argues that the Immigration Judge (IJ) violated his right to due process by limiting his testimony of credible fear. JCS Immigration has successfully helped many respondents in immigration court as well as succeeded in obtaining asylum status for many immigrants in Los Angeles and across the country.

The en banc court granted a petition for review of the denial of withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture in a case in which the petitioner asserted that the immigration judge violated his right to due process by limiting his testimony at his merits hearing and then denying relief on adverse credibility grounds.

Denial of Relief Based Solely on Adverse Credibility Finding

The en banc court held that applicants for asylum and withholding of removal have a due process right to testify fully as to the merits of their application. The en banc court explained that the IJ’s refusal to hear petitioner’s full testimony with respect to the abuses he suffered in Nigeria was particularly troublesome because the denial of relief rested solely on an adverse credibility finding, and the limitation of testimony hampered the IJ’s ability to judge the totality of the circumstances, including petitioner’s demeanor, candor or responsiveness, and the consistency between petitioner’s oral testimony with his written declaration.

The en banc court held that the IJ’s actions caused petitioner prejudice because the outcome turned entirely upon petitioner’s credibility. The en banc court remanded for a new hearing before an immigration judge.

Conclusion

Dissenting, Chief Judge Kozinski, joined by Judges Rawlinson and Bybee, wrote that the majority’s ruling was wholly unnecessary because the IJ did not preclude petitioner from testifying, and even assuming the IJ limited the testimony, there is no due process right to give live testimony at every administrative hearing where important property or liberty interests are at stake. Chief Judge Kozinski also wrote that petitioner in this case failed to demonstrate that the IJ’s actions caused him prejudice.

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