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Urukov v. Immigration and Naturalization Service

April 17, 1995

GUEORGUI P. URUKOV, PETITIONER,

v.

IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, RESPONDENT



On Petition for Review of a Decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A71-803-145

Before BAUER, BRIGHT *fn* and COFFEY, Circuit Judges.

COFFEY, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED NOVEMBER 30, 1994

DECIDED APRIL 17, 1995

Petitioner Urukov seeks review of a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") of deportation to his native country, Bulgaria. On December 2, 1992, deportation proceedings were initiated against Urukov with an order to show cause alleging that he was in violation of 8 U.S.C. sec. 1251(a)(1)(B) *fn1 because his visitor's visa had expired. On August 19, 1993, an Immigration Judge ("IJ") found that Urukov was deportable and ineligible for relief under the asylum or withholding of deportation provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("the Act"). 8 U.S.C. secs. 1158(a) and 1253(h). The IJ granted Urukov's alternative request for voluntary departure from the United States. Urukov appealed the IJ's decision to the BIA and the BIA adopted and affirmed the IJ's decision. Urukov petitions for review of the BIA's affirmance. We deny the petition and affirm the decision of the BIA.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Gueorgui Petrov Urukov is a 27 year old citizen of Bulgaria and is of Macedonian descent. *fn2 He obtained a visitor's visa to the United States in early 1991, which authorized him to remain in the United States until October 9, 1991. On May 9, 1991, he left Bulgaria and in June, 1991, Urukov applied for asylum in the United States without the assistance of counsel. The Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") denied his application for asylum because, in their opinion, he failed to establish that he had a "well-founded fear of persecution" should he return to Bulgaria, and on December 2, 1992, began deportation proceedings against Urukov and issued an order to show cause charging him with having remained in the United States after his visa had expired. At a deportation proceeding on March 3, 1993, Urukov appeared with counsel and admitted the allegations in the order to show cause. The IJ found that he was deportable and adjourned the proceedings in order that Urukov might have an opportunity to re-apply for asylum. With the assistance of counsel, Urukov submitted a second application on April 14, 1993, and on August 19, 1993, he appeared before the IJ, with counsel, and requested asylum. Prior to and during this hearing, Urukov presented a long and detailed familial and personal history, both orally and in writing, in support of his application for asylum and withholding of deportation which we summarize in order to facilitate our review of the BIA's decision to deny his petition.

Urukov was born in Pirin, Bulgaria, a Macedonian area, where his family is well-known for its support of Macedonian rights after the Communists rose to power in Bulgaria. His entire family, dating back to his great-grandfather, all resisted Bulgarian attempts to assimilate Macedonians and to eradicate Macedonian culture and heritage in that area. According to the petitioner, Urukov's grandfather was murdered as part of his resistance, and to this day, he is considered an "enemy of the people." Many of Urukov's older relatives were members of VMRO-Ilinden, an illegal underground movement and organization that espoused the cultural and ethnic independence of the Macedonian people. Urukov joined VMRO-Ilinden in 1988.

Urukov was raised with a strong sense of Macedonian pride and claimed to have begun performing acts of civil disobedience at an early age. In elementary school, he resisted efforts at Communist indoctrination by refusing to wear the red scarf that all students were required to wear because it symbolized mandatory membership in the Communist youth organization. He claimed that his teachers taught him that his relatives were disgraces to Bulgarian history, and when he protested to these characterizations, he was beaten by his teachers. Urukov also stated that in spite of the fact that he had the highest grades in his class, he was denied admission to the University of Sophia on two occasions.

Urukov began two years of mandatory military service after he graduated from the equivalent of a Bulgarian high school (gymnasium). He was assigned to a special camp in Vidin, a town far from his home village, one he claims was reserved for Turks, Macedonians and Gypsies, all of whom were classified as "undesirable" ethnic groups. Urukov also claims that this camp served as a re-education center where the soldiers spent half of each day being indoctrinated with Bulgarian political propaganda. He resisted all attempts at assimilation and indoctrination, and after fighting with other soldiers over his family's history of civil disobedience, Urukov was jailed for fifteen days because the officers thought he was an "anarchist."

Urukov's second year of military service was spent at Kozarsko, another town far from his home village, where he was forced to serve double shifts, doing construction labor during the day, and guard duty at night. He claimed that he was forced to work double shifts so that he would become tired and fall asleep on the job, thereby qualifying him for further punishment. Although he completed two full years of service, Urukov was required to remain in the military for an additional four months. Although Urukov's commander told him that his service was extended because the army needed more soldiers, he considered the extra time to be punishment for his civil disobedience and non-acquiescence to the Communist party.

When Urukov returned home after his military service, the government did not allow him to work as an electrician, the trade he was trained for in high school. Rather, he was assigned to be a farmer and a tract of land near his home village was designated for his use. Urukov rejected this assignment and moved to Blagoevgrad where he worked as an electrician without authorization from the government. After eight months, the authorities discovered that he was working as an electrician and "deported" him back to his home village in Pirin.

Urukov then began maintaining two homes, one in his home village and one in the larger town of Sandansky, where he was able to find unauthorized work as a waiter. He claimed to have increased his activities on behalf of VMRO-Ilinden at this time, including participating in the planing of meetings and rallies. In 1988, Urukov claimed to have participated in a drive to collect signatures of ethnic Macedonians in recognition of the Macedonian identity and in opposition to the Bulgarian government's failure to recognize their rights. After several months of collecting signatures against the Bulgarian non-recognition of Macedonian rights and identity, Urukov claimed that his house was raided, the signatures confiscated, and his employer at the restaurant was pressured by the police to fire him. Urukov stated that at this time, he ceased working and became involved in VMRO-Ilinden activities on a full-time basis, including the organizing of public rallies in support of Macedonian independence. His parents supported him financially while he worked on behalf of VMRO-Ilinden.

One such rally held in August, 1990, was broken up by police officers using teargas and dogs. Urukov was present at this rally but he escaped immediate arrest. Once he returned to his home in Sandansky, however, he found that his apartment had been raided, presumably by the police, and he was arrested and held in custody for one full day. During this detention, Urukov claimed that he was interrogated about his VMRO-Ilinden activities and beaten. Although Urukov was able to return to his home and to continue his VMRO-Ilinden activities after this arrest, he claimed that it frightened him so much that he realized he must leave Bulgaria as soon as possible. He obtained his visitor's visa to the ...


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