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Yadegar-Sargis v. Immigration and Naturalization Service

July 22, 2002

NAZANI YADEGAR-SARGIS, PETITIONER,
v.
IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, RESPONDENT.



Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A71-849-557

Before Bauer, Ripple and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge

ARGUED JUNE 3, 2002

Nazani Yadegar-Sargis, an Iranian, overstayed her visitor's visa, and, consequently, the INS in-stituted deportation proceedings against her. Ms. Sargis conceded deportability but sought asylum and withhold-ing of deportation. After a hearing, the Immigration Judge ("IJ") issued a ruling in which he denied asylum and with-holding of deportation but granted Ms. Sargis voluntary departure. The Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA" or "Board") affirmed the IJ's decision. Ms. Sargis now seeks further review in this court. For the reasons given in the following opinion, we must deny the petition and affirm the decision of the Board.

I. BACKGROUND

A.

We begin by setting forth the basic facts from the administrative record before us. *fn1 Ms. Sargis is a seventy-one year old native and citizen of Iran. An Armenian Christian, she first began to experience difficulties in Iran when the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. According to Ms. Sargis, the new government forced her husband to retire from his job solely because he was Armenian. He found another job with a foreign construction company; however, that company eventually shut down. Ms. Sargis testified that her husband was unable to find other work because he was Armenian and Christian. The government, however, did give Ms. Sargis' husband his pension.

At the time that the Ayatollah overthrew the Shah, many Armenian schools were closed. Those that remained open were forced to teach Islam and to accept Moslem students. At that time, Ms. Sargis and her husband sent their only child, a son, to live in Italy where he could study in an Armenian school and would not have to learn the Islamic faith.

After Ms. Sargis and her husband sent their son abroad, government soldiers came to their home in Tehran looking for him. Several times government agents interrogated her and her husband and took her husband to the Komiteh *fn2 for further questioning. Ms. Sargis believes that these intrusions aggravated her husband's heart condition-a condition of which the agents were aware. Ms. Sargis' husband died from his heart condition in 1988, and the government stopped sending agents to her home after his death. After her husband's death, Ms. Sargis did continue to receive his pension.

Ms. Sargis stated that she suffered other hardships because she was Armenian. Specifically, she had difficulty obtaining food. After waiting hours in food rationing lines, she often was forced to the end of the line or told there was nothing for her because she was Armenian. When fellow Armenians objected to this treatment, they were beaten or told to leave the country. Ms. Sargis was forced to change her diet and obtain food through the black market because of these actions.

Ms. Sargis also was forced to wear the Islamic garb. Twice she was approached by the police and was cited for not following the Islamic dress code. Her niece, who lived with Ms. Sargis at the time, was spray painted by Islamic extremists when she went out in public without her scarf to cover her face. *fn3 Although Ms. Sargis opposed the dress code, after this incident she complied out of fear for her safety.

Ms. Sargis also testified that government agents were stationed at the front gates of her church and hassled young girls and women as they entered church; specifically, they would "complain about your hair or something." A.R.82. When the women came out of church, government agents sometimes would take the women for questioning and "if you have a cross . . . on you, and they'll just grab the cross and throw it or something." Id.

After Ms. Sargis' husband died, she left Iran and entered the United States as a visitor for pleasure on August 30, 1991. She has remained in the United States since that time and has resided with her niece outside Chicago.

Ms. Sargis' son now lives in Italy. She has one sister and two nieces who reside in Chicago. She no longer ...


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