Turkman v. Holder
Allegations that a separatist group may attempt to forcibly recruit an individual, if the individual returns to his country, and that his government might punish the individual, because of his membership in the separatist group, may be insufficient to obtain asylum and withholding of removal. The petitioner, a citizen of Turkey, applied for asylum, withholding of removal and relief under CAT, the Convention Against Torture. Hartford Immigration Judge Philip Verrillo denied his petition, and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The petitioner claimed that he was subjected to persecution in the past, because of his membership in particular social groups. The Board of Immigration Appeals found that the asylum statute does not recognize the social groups to which the petitioner belongs. Although that might have constituted error, because the immigration judge did not make such a finding, the Board of Immigration Appeals also found that the petitioner did not establish persecution "on account of" any such membership. The petitioner also argued that if he returns, he faces forcible recruitment from a Kurdish separatist group that hopes to expand its membership. The immigration judge found that this was insufficient to establish eligibility for asylum. Substantial evidence in the record supported the immigration judge’s conclusions. The petitioner has not been harmed by the Turkish government and has not reported any of his interactions with the Kurdish group to the authorities. The petitioner’s claim that undercover government agents might harm him, if they thought he belonged to the Kurdish group that unsuccessfully tried to recruit him, was conjectural. The Board of Immigration Appeals’ denial of the petitioner’s applications for asylum and withholding of removal did not constitute error, and the 2nd Circuit denied the petition for review. Justin Conlon represented the petitioner. Stuart Delery, Daniel Goldman, and Jonathan Robbins represented the government.