Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 93 CR 716-1 Brian Barnett Duff, Judge.
Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and ESCHBACH and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.
Petition for Review of a Decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals
Soroya Sharif petitions this court to overturn a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals denying her claims for asylum and withholding of deportation. Sharif argues that if she returns to her home country of Iran she will be persecuted because of her family and her status as a "westernized woman." We conclude that the BIA's decision was supported by substantial evidence, and deny Sharif's petition.
Sharif is a native and citizen of Iran. Her father was a wealthy automobile dealer in Iran, and "follower" of the Shah, prior to the Islamic revolution in 1979. After the revolution, Sharif's father was forced to forfeit some of his wealth. By divorcing Sharif's mother, Sharif's father was able to salvage some of the family's assets, including the family villa. *fn1 Her father was never physically harmed or arrested. Sharif's mother lives in the family villa in Tehran, Iran to this day.
Sharif lived in Iran after the revolution relatively without incident. Although she claims that she has always harbored "pro-western" beliefs, she lived in Iran in complete conformity with the Iranian fundamentalists' social code. She never professed western ideas or objected to the fundamentalist regime.
Sharif once was stopped briefly because authorities believed she was "mixing" with a man who was not her husband. When she produced a copy of her marriage certificate demonstrating that the man was, in fact, her husband, Sharif was released without harm. Sharif's home was once the subject of government surveillance. However, the surveillance was a security precaution taken by the government because Sharif's home was located "close to where Khomeni was living," not because the home was occupied by Sharif.
Sharif was unable to attend college because the Khomeni government reserved seventy percent of the enrollment for members of the Hezbollah party (of which Sharif is not a member). *fn2 She also lost her job at a company in Iran when the company was taken over by the government. However, she found another job teaching private school.
Since the revolution, most of Sharif's family has lived in Iran without significant hardship. The family sustains itself by growing and selling agricultural products. Sharif claims that her father remains "in hiding" from the Iranian government. However, her mother and uncle live in Iran free from governmental oppression. The family villa was seized briefly in 1993, but an Iranian court promptly ordered the villa returned to Sharif's mother.
In 1990, at the age of 30, Sharif sought and obtained an Iranian passport to come to the United States. When her passport expired the first time, Sharif received considerable assistance from the Iranian consulate in Washington, D.C. to extend her stay. On October 3, 1991, her passport again expired, but she remained in the United States. The INS commenced deportation proceedings against her in 1994. Sharif conceded deportability, but claimed that she is entitled to asylum or withholding of deportation because she wanted "freedom."
An Immigration Judge made quick work of Sharif's case, denying her claims for asylum and withholding of deportation. Reviewing the IJ's decision de novo, the BIA affirmed. Sharif now brings this timely appeal. ...