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USCA1 Opinion

[NOT FOR PUBLICATION]


[NOT FOR PUBLICATION]

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS


FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT
____________________

No. 97-1714

JAARAH SALIFU,

Petitioner,

v.

IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE,

Respondent.

____________________

ON PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF

THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS


____________________

Before

Torruella, Chief Judge,


___________

Aldrich, Senior Circuit Judge,


____________________

and Boudin, Circuit Judge.


_____________

____________________

John J. Loscocco and Barker, Epstein and Loscocco


_________________
_____________________________

on brief

petitioner.
Ellen
Sue Shapiro,
____________________
Immigration Litigation,

Senior

Litigation

Counsel,

Civil Division, Department

Office

of Justice, Fr
__

W. Hunger, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, and Richard


__________
_______
Evans, Assistant Director, on brief for respondent.
_____

____________________

February 19, 1998


____________________
Per Curiam.
__________

Jaarah Salifu

Board of Immigration Appeals,

appeals a

which affirmed an

judge's denial of her petition for asylum

deportation.

8 U.S.C.

decision of

1158, 1253(h).

the

immigration

and withholding of

We affirm.

Salifu, a native of Ghana, attempted to enter the United

States through John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on July 1,

1993.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service paroled her

into the United

an exclusion

States and began exclusion

hearing on

excludability but

November 9,

petitioned for

proceedings.

1993, Salifu

At

conceded

asylum and withholding

of

deportation, alleging that she feared persecution in Ghana on

the basis

of her political opinion.

the petition were held

Evidentiary hearings on

before an immigration judge

on March

30 and August 25, 1994.

Salifu's asylum affidavit states that she was a regional

organizing

secretary of

Ghana's New Patriotic

opposed the ruling junta in

The

next

day,

Salifu

Party, which

an election on November 3, 1992.

participated

in

demonstration

protesting fraud

dispersed by

in the

army

election.

and police

The demonstrators

officers,

and a

were

curfew

was

imposed on the area.

On November 6, police officers arrested

Salifu

took

at home

and

affidavit states

during which

the

that

she was

time she was

officers told

her to

her she

held

police station.

for about

raped twice.

was

Salifu

being held

two

The

weeks,

claims that

because of

her

participation in the demonstration.

Salifu's affidavit states that a police officer told her

that she would

be transferred to Accra, Ghana's capital, and

that many prisoners sent there

-3-3-

never returned.

The

officer

agreed to help

Salifu escape and took her

suggested that

she go

to stay

with her

home.

Her mother

grandmother, which

Salifu did.

After

that she

took

three months

with

her grandmother,

Salifu said

decided to contact a

friend in Accra.

The friend

Salifu in

country.

and promised

The friend obtained

to

help her

escape from

a passport for Salifu

the

in the

name of

Marian Bigelow and

States.

The friend also gave her an envelope containing some

photographs.

During

an airline ticket to

the

flight,

Salifu

the United

destroyed

the

passport, as her friend had instructed.

Salifu was

New

York.

detained by an INS official

The official

searched her

upon arrival in

bag and

removed the

envelope, which contained not only the photographs but also a

handwritten

letter.

letter, does not

that the

Salifu claims

in her possession

The letter narrates the

respects, but

was

not

recognize the handwriting, and

letter was

activist who

she did

not in others,

details

was unaware

until it

experience of a New

raped; the

write the

was found.

Patriotic Party

are similar

to Salifu's statements

in

some

in her

asylum affidavit.

The

requested

but

INS

official

interrogated

Salifu.

She

an interpreter who spoke Twi, her native language,

no interpreter

converse

then

was

available.

Salifu

attempted

to

with the officer in English, although she maintains

-4-4-

her English was and remains very poor.

Salifu's

This

The INS officer wrote

answers out in affidavit form, which Salifu signed.

"airport affidavit" was

admitted into evidence

at the

hearing, as were the letter and photographs found in Salifu's

possession and

a memorandum that

the INS officer

wrote "to

file" after interviewing Salifu.

The

concluding

immigration

judge

wrote

that Salifu's testimony

detailed

was not credible.

conclusion was based on

Salifu's demeanor on the

inability

to

or

inconsistencies

affidavit, and

petition.

carried her

refusal

between

answer

her

live

simple

that she had

stand, her

the

and

airport

of her asylum

judge concluded that

burden of proving

This

questions,

testimony,

the affidavit filed in support

The immigration

opinion

Salifu not

a "well-founded

fear of

persecution" on

Alvarez-Flores v.
______________

appeal,

the

account of

INS, 909 F.2d


___

Board

of

her political

1, 3

Immigration

opinion.

(1st Cir. 1990).

Appeals

affirmed

On

the

immigration judge's decision.

Salifu's argument on

appeal comprises an attack

on the

factfinder's credibility assessments, which must be upheld as

long as

they are "reasonably grounded in

as a whole."

Cordero-Trejo v.
_____________

Cir.

We think

1994).

clearly

that the

erroneous in concluding

not convincing.

As the

INS, 40
___

the record, viewed

F.3d 482, 487

immigration judge

was not

that Salifu's testimony was

judge noted, there were

-5-

(1st

"sufficient

-5-

inconsistencies

in the

testimony,

asylum application,

and

affidavitalone to warrant a negative finding of credibility."

Salifu argues that the Board violated the policy of

decision

1994).

noting

in Cordero-Trejo
_____________

v.

In Cordero-Trejo, we
_____________

that

the

immigration

INS, 40
___

reversed a

judge's

F.3d

482 (1st

denial of

adverse

our

Cir.

asylum,

credibility

findings were not based on

unique

vantage

point

"any perspectives offered by

of the

factfinder,

such

the

as witness

demeanor, conflicting or confused testimony, etc., from which

credibility is typically assessed."

immigration

judge

in

Id. at 491.
___

Cordero-Trejo
_____________

Rather, the

discredited

the

petitioner's testimony with criticisms that we thought either

patently

unreasonable

evidence in the record.

Salifu makes a

by

documentary

Nothing like that occurred here.

not dispose of her claim that

of

from Cordero-Trejo to
_____________

testimony must

directly refuted

related legal argument that her own lack

of credibility does

well-founded fear

or

persecution.

Salifu quotes

the effect that an

be evaluated

in the

she has a

language

asylum applicant's

context of

documentary

evidence of the

country.

to

political situation in the

Salifu is right that such

determine whether a

asylum

petitioner

subjective
__________

must

information is relevant

petitioner's fear of

objectively "well-founded."

applicant's home

persecution is

But as a threshold

prove

fear of persecution.

-6-6-

that

she

has

matter, the

an

actual

INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480


___
_______________

U.S. 421, 430-31 (1987).

claim

must

be

The subjective element of an asylum

"established

via the

testimony that his fear is genuine."


_________

at 491 (emphasis added).

applicant's

credible
________

Cordero-Trejo, 40
_____________

F.3d

In this regard a petitioner's lack

of credibility can be dispositive, as it is here.

Salifu

admitting

argues

into

photographs seized

INS

that

evidence

the

immigration

the

from her at

judge

handwritten

erred

letter

the airport, as well

officer's "memorandum to file."

in

and

as the

Because the photographs

and memorandum do not appreciably strengthen the case against

Salifu, we believe their admission,

if at all erroneous, was

harmless.

Rodriguez-Hernandez v.
___________________

Miranda-Velez,
_____________

132 F.3d

848, 855 (1st Cir. 1998).

The

handwritten letter, on the other hand, was damaging

to Salifu.

Salifu's sole objection below was that the letter

was irrelevant.

tended

This objection is without merit.

somewhat to

"coached in her

story was

asserts

story" before

untrue in

that

specifically,

was

no

that there was

not been

made at the time

the

chance

foundation

Salifu

was

and that

the

On appeal,

for

the

no independent proof

the one found in her

altered.

that

leaving Ghana,

material respects.

there

letter offered was

it had

increase

The letter

However,

Salifu

letter,

that the

possession and that

this objection

was not

the letter was offered into evidence, so it

-7-7-

is deemed waived.

United States v. Benavente-Gomez, 921 F.2d


_____________
_______________

378, 385 (1st Cir. 1990).

Salifu makes other

of

persecution and

arguments regarding the

political opinion.

definitions

Because the

Board

correctly

affirmed

the

regarding credibility,

eligibility

arguments.

immigration

we do

judge's

not reach Salifu's

Because she

does

conclusion

additional

not qualify

for

asylum, Salifu also does not meet the more demanding standard

for

withholding of deportation.

4.

Affirmed.
________

Alvarez-Flores, 909 F.2d at


______________

-8-8-