On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency No. A078-049-035
Argued and Submitted February 15, 2012-San Francisco, California
Before: Susan P. Graber and Richard C. Tallman, Circuit Judges, and Robert J. Timlin,*fn1 Senior District Judge.
Khalil-Salim Arbid ("Arbid"), a native and citizen of Lebanon, petitions for review of a decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA"). The BIA upheld the immigration judge's ("IJ") determination that Arbid had committed a particularly serious crime, rendering him ineligible for asylum or withholding of removal. The BIA also affirmed the IJ's finding that conditions had changed in Lebanon such that it was no longer more likely than not that Arbid would be tortured upon his return. Arbid argues that his mail fraud conviction was not a particularly serious crime and that it is still more likely than not that he will be tortured upon his return to Lebanon. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(1), and we deny the petition.
After suffering torture at the hands of Syrian intelligence agents in Lebanon in the late 1990s, Arbid fled to the West. He traveled to Mexico in 2000 and soon entered the United States at the Port of Entry at Douglas, Arizona, falsely claiming to be an American citizen.
Three months after his illegal entry, Arbid was served with a Notice to Appear before an IJ. Arbid admitted that he had lied about his citizenship to gain entry into the United States, but he sought asylum and withholding of removal. The IJ determined that Arbid had a well-founded fear of persecution for his political beliefs should he be removed to Lebanon and granted Arbid's application for asylum and withholding of removal.
In April 2008, Arbid pleaded guilty to mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341. According to the Statement of Facts accompanying his plea agreement, Arbid was involved in a two-man scheme to defraud mortgage lenders. The scheme's general purpose was to receive multiple "loans" from different institutions using a single house in suburban Washington, D.C., as collateral. Arbid created false documents to induce lenders to issue loans, the proceeds of which he deposited into his personal checking account. Arbid was sentenced to sixteen months in prison and was ordered to pay more than $650,000 in restitution.
After Arbid served his criminal sentence, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") moved to reopen Arbid's removal proceedings, charging that Arbid was no longer eligible for asylum or withholding of removal because he had been convicted of a particularly serious crime. After hearing Arbid's description of his criminal activities and after reviewing the criminal record, the IJ held that Arbid's crime of conviction was particularly serious, rendering him ineligible for asylum or withholding of removal. The IJ then held a hearing to determine whether conditions had changed in Lebanon such that it was no longer more likely than not that Arbid would be tortured if he was removed there. After both parties submitted exhibits about country conditions in Lebanon, the IJ ...