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Zeah v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 6, 2014

Felicia Zeah, Petitioner
v.
Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent

Submitted October 23, 2013

Page 578

Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

For Felicia Zeah, Petitioner: Phillip Frederick Fishman, Rachel Michelle Petersen, PHILLIP F. FISHMAN LAW OFFICE, Edina, MN.

Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent: Scott Baniecke, U.S. IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERVICE, Bloomington, MN; Karen Yolanda Drummond, Carl H. McIntyre, Kohsei Ugumori, Ann Carroll Varnon, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Civil Division, Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC.

Before BYE, SMITH, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 579

BYE, Circuit Judge.

Felicia Zeah petitions for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which affirmed the denial of Zeah's application for cancellation of removal. Zeah argues the Immigration Judge (IJ) and the BIA applied incorrect legal standards and violated her constitutional rights in handling testimony and in determining Zeah had not established removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to her minor child. We deny Zeah's petition.

I

Zeah, a citizen and national of Nigeria, came to the United States in 1985 to join her first husband. Zeah has two adult children from her first marriage. Zeah divorced her first husband and subsequently married her second husband, United States citizen James Wells, in 1989. The IJ found this was a sham marriage.

Zeah married her third and current husband, United States citizen Wilson Zeah, in 1999. Zeah and Wilson have a minor son together, J.R., who was born in 2000. J.R. has a learning disability as well as other social problems. Wilson filed a relative petition for Zeah which was denied pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1154(c) based on Zeah's alleged prior sham marriage.

In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security commenced removal proceedings against Zeah, contending she was removable under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) as an immigrant, who, at time of application for admission, is not in possession of a valid entry document. Zeah conceded removeability, but sought cancellation of removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1). The IJ heard two days of testimony, including that of Zeah, her husband, her adult son, and Dr. Ajovi B. Scott-Emuakpor (" Dr. Scott" ). Zeah, her husband, and her adult son all testified about the family unit and Zeah's role as J.R.'s primary caretaker. The IJ refused to hear the testimony of J.R., who was then nine years of age, but allowed Zeah to make an offer of proof. J.R. would have testified to his mother being his ...


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