In 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decided Pllumi v. A.G holding that healthcare in a foreign country may be considered in evaluating a humanitarian asylum claim. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals is a federal court. Its jurisdiction is over the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands. A decision in this court is very important, as it is the only appellate level in the federal system. Only the United States Supreme Court is higher. In states which are outside of the Third Circuit’s Jurisdiction, advocates could argue that their Circuit Court should decide similarly even though the Third Circuit’s decision is not controlling in other jurisdictions.
This case is a Petition for Review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision. The BIA had denied Mr. Pllumi’s request to reopen his immigration proceedings, and refused to reconsider their decision denying him asylum. Mr. Pllumi argued the BIA abused its discretion, which means that the Board failed to take into proper consideration the facts and law relating to a particular matter. Specifically, the BIA had determined that Mr. Pllumi failed to establish changed country conditions in his country of Albania. Further, the BIA determined that medical care in an asylee’s home country should not be considered in reopening asylum cases. Mr. Pllumi asked the Third Circuit Court to remand his case to BIA. This means that his case would be returned to the BIA.
Mr. Pllumi was seeking humanitarian asylum in the United States. For a humanitarian asylum application, the person has to be demonstrate the harm they would suffer if they return to their native country. In the relevant statute, the Immigration and Nationality Act, there is a provision concerning “other harm.” Mr. Pllumi had sustained serious injuries from a hit-and-run accident here in the U.S. His native country of Albania does not have a medical care system that could provide care for his needs. He argued that the lower quality of medical care in Albania is “other harm.” The BIA did not agree with this and determined that healthcare could not be considered in determination of “other harm.” The Court of Appeals found the BIA was incorrect on the law, and it should review his case again. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the BIA.
This case is important. It is a precedent decision confirming the viability of considering healthcare in asylum applications. This interpretation could substantially help people applying for asylum who have a similar concerns about the healthcare available in their native countries, though pursuing asylum on such a basis is still extremely difficult.
If you believe you may benefit from the court’s determination in this case, contact the Law Office of Eric M. Mark to discuss it.
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