Nani Keta v. Merrick Garland

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 21-3243 ___________________________ Nani Tunu Keta, lllllllllllllllllllllPetitioner, v. Merrick B. Garland, Attorney General of the United States, lllllllllllllllllllllRespondent. ____________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals ____________ Submitted: April 13, 2022 Filed: August 10, 2022 ____________ Before COLLOTON, MELLOY, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges. ____________ COLLOTON, Circuit Judge. Nani Tunu Keta, a citizen and native of Eritrea, petitions for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals denying relief under the Convention Against Torture. An immigration judge granted Keta deferral of removal under the Convention, but the Board reversed that finding on administrative appeal, and Keta was ordered removed to Eritrea. We deny the petition for review. I. Keta was born in Eritrea and lived there until he relocated to Ethiopia when he was about forty years old. He came to the United States from Ethiopia as a refugee in July 2007, and became a lawful permanent resident in March 2009. In January 2019, Keta was convicted in Iowa of two offenses: domestic abuse assault with a dangerous weapon and willful injury causing serious injury. See Iowa Code §§ 708.1(2)(a), 708.2A(2)(c), 708.4(1). As a result, the Department of Homeland Security charged that Keta was removable from the country. In immigration proceedings, Keta sought deferral of removal to Eritrea under the Convention Against Torture. At a hearing in immigration court, Keta requested the presence of a Kunama interpreter. Kunama is the language spoken by the Kunama people, an ethnic group native to Eritrea. Despite diligent effort, the immigration judge (IJ) was unable to arrange for a Kunama interpreter. The IJ instead accommodated Keta’s second language by securing a Tigrinya interpreter, and then took steps to ensure that Keta understood the hearing. Tigrinya is a language commonly spoken in Eritrea. During the hearing, the IJ permitted Keta, in lieu of direct examination, to introduce a written statement that he had prepared with Kunama translation assistance from his son. In his prepared statement, Keta asserted that he escaped from Eritrea with his family in 2000. He said that before leaving the country, he was incarcerated for seven years for refusing to perform mandatory military service. Keta said that he was “beaten badly” and electrocuted while in prison. Keta wrote that he is now “fearful for [his] life,” because Eritrea has “records that show that [he is] one of the escapees who have fled the country.” On cross-examination, the Department introduced Keta’s “Sworn Statement of Refugee Applying for Admission into the United States” from an interview with an -2- asylum officer in April 2007. This refugee statement, completed under oath with a Kunama interpreter in 2007, said that neither Keta nor his family members was “harmed or threatened by anyone” while in Eritrea. In that statement, Keta said that he left Eritrea because the government took his land, and Eritrea was at war with Ethiopia. Keta said that he was afraid of returning to Eritrea, because the Eritrean …

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