|By Susan E. Hill, May 18, 2017
The “persecutor bar” prevents immigration benefits from being granted to applicants who persecuted others in the past. Today, the immigration appellate court (BIA) confirmed just how far the government must go to invoke the bar.
In Matter of M-B-C-, 27 I&N Dec. 31 (BIA 2017), Interim Decision #3892, the applicant was a commander in a Bosnian military unit, the VRS, during the Balkan conflict in the early 1990’s. M-B-C- argued that the government had to prove that he had personally harmed others, or that he knew the VRS was engaging in persecution. The government made a rare move to produce an expert witness, who analyzed the evidence in the context of that conflict.
Based on the expert’s information, the government showed that M-B-C- had served in the VRS, in a location where VRS soldiers engaged in ethnic massacres, and during the time of the massacres. The government did not have to prove that M-B-C- had personal knowledge or involvement in the massacres.
The BIA confirmed that the government’s evidence only needs to “indicate” that a person “may be” a persecutor of others. Once the Judge made this determination, then it was M-B-C-‘s burden to convince the Judge that he was innocent.
The persecutor bar stops undeserving people from getting green cards and citizenship in the U.S. Any participation during a war or conflict must be carefully examined at all stages of an immigration case, even if it did not cause problems before. The US government can raise this issue at any time during your case—even after you become a citizen, if you made a material misrepresentation about your past.