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                           UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
                                   TENTH CIRCUIT
         YESHWARED WOLDEMESKEL,           
         v.                                          No. 00-9516
                                                (INS No. A29-910-501)
                               Filed October 1, 2001
         Before TACHA, Chief Judge, McKAY, and CUDAHY,(1) Circuit Judges.
              This matter is before the court on Ms. Woldemeskel's petition for panel 

         rehearing and petition for rehearing en banc.  Upon consideration, the petition 

         for rehearing is denied.  The panel, however, has determined that the opinion 

         should be revised.  The last full paragraph of Part II.C, which begins "We 

         emphasize that," is deleted from the opinion.  A copy of the revised opinion is 

         attached to this order.

              The petition for rehearing en banc was transmitted to all of the judges of

         (1)     Honorable Richard D. Cudahy, Senior Circuit Judge, United States Court 
         of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, sitting by designation.

         the court who are in regular active service as required by Fed. R. App. P. 35. 

         As no member of the panel and no judge in regular active service on the court 

         requested that the court be polled, that petition is also denied.

                                            Entered for the Court
                                            PATRICK FISHER, Clerk of Court
                                                 Deputy Clerk
                           United States Court of Appeals
                                   Tenth Circuit
                                    JUL 25 2001
                                   PATRICK FISHER
                                       Clerk                             PUBLISH                  
                           UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
                                   TENTH CIRCUIT
         YESHWARED WOLDEMESKEL,           
         v.                                          No. 00-9516

                                IMMIGRATION APPEALS
                               (INS No. A29-910-501)
         Kenneth H. Stern (Stephanie Goldsborough, with him on the briefs), Stern & 
         Elkind, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner.
         Erin Albritton, Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division 
         (David W. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, and David V. 
         Bernal, Assistant Director, Office of Immigration Litigation, with her on the 
         brief), United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Respondent.
         Before TACHA, Chief Judge, McKAY, and CUDAHY,(1) Circuit Judges.
         TACHA, Chief Judge.

         (1)     Honorable Richard D. Cudahy, Senior Circuit Judge, United States Court 
         of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, sitting by designation.

              The petitioner appeals the Board of Immigration Appeals' order denying 

         her request for asylum and withholding of deportation and granting voluntary 

         departure.  Exercising jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. . 1105a(a) (1995),(1) we deny 

         the petition for review.

                                   I.  Background

              The petitioner, Ms. Yeshwared Woldemeskel, is a native and citizen of 

         Ethiopia.  In October 1992, she entered the United States on a temporary visa 

         authorizing a six-month stay.  Because she stayed longer than authorized by her 

         visa, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) instituted deportation 

         proceedings against her, after which Ms. Woldemeskel applied for asylum and 

         withholding of deportation claiming that she endured past persecution and 

         feared future persecution in Ethiopia because of her ethnicity and political 

         opinion.  In August 1994, the immigration judge denied her request for asylum 

         and withholding of deportation and granted voluntary departure, concluding
		  Ms. Woldemeskel had not established statutory eligibility for asylum.  In an order 

         dated May 15, 2000, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the 

         immigration judge's decision and this petition for review followed.

              During the asylum proceedings, Ms. Woldemeskel claimed that she was 

         the victim of past persecution under the Mengistu regime and that she feared 

         future persecution under the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), which 

         replaced the Mengistu regime in 1991.  In 1977, at the age of seventeen, the 

         Mengistu authorities allegedly arrested and imprisoned Ms. Woldemeskel for 

         twelve months because she was believed to be a member of a political 

         opposition group called the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP). 

         Ms. Woldemeskel testified that, during her first two months of imprisonment, 

         she was threatened often with a gun and tortured by prison authorities who 

         gagged her, tied her upside down, and whipped and hit her.  When released from 

         prison, authorities warned she would be arrested again if she worked with 

         individuals opposing the Mengistu government.

              From 1978 to 1990, Ms. Woldemeskel does not claim to have suffered 

         further persecution.  During this time, she married and had two children.  In 

         1991, Ethiopia experienced a change in government with the election of the 

         TGE, a group dominated by leaders of Tigrean ethnicity who belonged to the 

         (1)      In 1996, 8 U.S.C.  1105a was repealed by section 306(b) of the Illegal 
         Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), Pub. L. No. 
         104-208, 110 Stat. 3009.  IIRIRA dramatically changed the scope and nature of 
         judicial review in exclusion cases.  But because the INS commenced 
         deportation proceedings against the petitioner before IIRIRA's effective date, 
         April 1, 1997, and the final deportation order was entered after October 31, 
         1996, our review is governed by the pre-IIRIRA rules as amended by IIRIRA's 
         transitional rules.  See IIRIRA  306(c)(1), reprinted as amended in 8 U.S.C.  
         1252 note; IIRIRA 309(a), (c)(1) & (4), reprinted as amended in 8 U.S.C.  
         1101 note.  Under the transitional rules,  1105a remains in effect but for 
         minor procedural amendments.

         Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the political 

         group currently in power in Ethiopia.  Ms. Woldemeskel claims the leaders
		  of the TGE targeted Ethiopians of Amhara ethnicity, asserting that she and her 

         husband were fired as a result of their Amhara heritage.  In addition, she and 

         her husband were members of a political opposition group called the All 

         Amhara People's Organization (AAPO).  Because her husband led a group 

         protesting the firing of Amharas, he was allegedly arrested by the TGE in 1992. 

         She claims that authorities then threatened to arrest her too if she did not stop 

         protesting her husband's arrest.  Shortly thereafter she obtained an Ethiopian 

         passport and left the country.  Because she was unable to obtain visas for her 

         children, she had to leave them in Ethiopia with a friend.

                                    II.  Asylum

              A request for asylum involves two steps.  First, the asylum applicant has 

         the burden of proving her statutory eligibility by establishing refugee status.  8 

         C.F.R. . 208.13(a)(2); Kapcia v. INS, 944 F.2d 702, 706 (10th Cir. 1991).  In 

         order to establish refugee status, the applicant must demonstrate either past 

         "persecution or a well-founded fear of [future] persecution on account of race, 

         religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political 

         opinion."  8 U.S.C. . 1101(a)(42)(A).  Although persecution is not explicitly

         (2)      Citations to the C.F.R. are based on the current version of the 
         regulations.  Although 8 C.F.R.  208.13 was recently amended, see 65 Fed. 
         Reg. 76121, 76133-34 (Dec. 6, 2000), it did not change the substance of the 
         provisions applicable to Ms. Woldemeskel.  In order to minimize potential 
         confusion, we cite to the most recent version.

         defined, we have observed that it requires the "infliction of suffering or harm 

         upon those who differ (in race, religion, or political opinion) in a way regarded 

         as offensive" and requires "more than just restrictions or threats to life and 

         liberty."  Baka v. INS, 963 F.2d 1376, 1379 (10th Cir. 1992) (internal 

         quotation marks omitted).  Analysis of a claim specifically based on a "well-

         founded fear of [future] persecution" includes both a subjective and an 

         objective component.  Kapcia, 944 F.2d at 706.  The applicant must first prove 

         an objective basis by "`credible, direct, and specific evidence in the record, of 

         facts that would support a reasonable fear that the petitioner faces 

         persecution.'" Id. at 706-07 (quoting Aguilera-Cota v. INS, 914 F.2d 1375, 

         1378 (9th Cir. 1990)); see also 8 C.F.R. . 208.13(b)(2)(i)(B) (applicant must 

         prove "reasonable possibility" of future persecution).  If an objective basis 

         exists, the applicant must show her subjective fear is genuine.  Id. at 706. 

               If the applicant proves her eligibility for refugee status, the Attorney 

         General then exercises discretionary judgment in either granting or denying 

         asylum.  Id. at 708.  In general, the Attorney General's discretion at this second 

         step in an asylum claim is "extremely broad."  Id.  But if an applicant 

         demonstrates statutory eligibility based on past persecution, a rebuttable 

         presumption of a reasonable fear of future persecution arises.  8 C.F.R. . 

         208.13(b)(1); Nazaraghaie v. INS, 102 F.3d 460, 462 (10th Cir. 1996).  In 

         order to rebut the presumption in favor of the favorable exercise of discretion,

         the INS must prove by a preponderance of evidence that the petitioner no 

         longer has a well-founded fear of persecution because country conditions have 

         changed.  8 C.F.R. . 208.13(b)(1)(i)(A); Kapcia, 944 F.2d at 709. 

         Alternatively, "the immigration judge or [the BIA] may take administrative 

         notice of changed circumstances in appropriate cases, such as where the 

         government from which the threat of persecution arises has been removed from 

         power."  Id. (internal quotation marks and emphasis omitted).  

              In addition, when an asylum applicant shows she experienced "past 

         persecution so severe that repatriation would be inhumane," she may be eligible 

         for a discretionary, humanitarian grant of asylum even when no future danger of 

         persecution exists.  Baka, 963 F.2d at 1379.  According to the relevant 

         regulation, a humanitarian grant of asylum is appropriate when the "applicant 

         has demonstrated compelling reasons for being unwilling or unable to return . . 

         . arising out of the severity of the past persecution."  8 C.F.R. . 


         A.   Standard of Review

              We apply a substantial evidence standard to the BIA's resolution of the 

         first step of an asylum claimÄwhether an asylum applicant has established 

         refugee status: "The BIA's determination that [the applicant is] not eligible for 

         asylum must be upheld if `supported by reasonable, substantial, and probative 

         evidence on the record considered as a whole.'  It can be reversed only if the

         evidence presented by [the applicant] was such that a reasonable factfinder 

         would have to conclude that the requisite fear of persecution existed."  INS v. 

         Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 481 (1992) (internal citation omitted) (quoting 8 

         U.S.C. . 1105a(a)(4) (1995)).  We will not, therefore, "weigh the evidence or . 

         . . evaluate the witnesses' credibility."  Kapcia, 944 F.2d at 707 (internal 

         quotation marks omitted).  At the second step of an asylum claim, which 

         requires the exercise of agency discretion, we review the BIA's decision for 

         abuse of discretion.  Rezai v. INS, 62 F.3d 1286, 1289 (10th Cir. 1995). 

         Recognizing the BIA's broad discretion, we will not substitute our judgment for 

         that of the BIA, but do require a "rational connection between the facts found 

         and the choice made."  Kapcia, 944 F.2d at 708 (internal quotation marks 


         B.   Eligibility for Asylum

              Ms. Woldemeskel argues she is eligible for asylum under any of the 

         approaches discussed above: (1) humanitarian asylum based on past persecution 

         by the Mengistu regime; (2) asylum based on the rebuttable presumption 

         created by past persecution; and (3) asylum based on her well-founded fear of 

         persecution under the current government.  The immigration judge 

         concludedÄand the BIA agreedÄthat Ms. Woldemeskel was not entitled to 

         asylum under any of these approaches.  We agree.

         1.   Past Persecution


              Concerning her request for humanitarian asylum, the BIA did not abuse 

         its discretion in deciding that the past persecution was not severe enough to 

         warrant a grant of asylum on humanitarian grounds.  Ms. Woldemeskel's 

         imprisonment under the Mengistu regime occurred several years ago. 

         Afterwards, she lived in Ethiopia for many years free from harassment or 

         discrimination.  Hence, the record shows a rational connection between the 

         facts in this case and the BIA's finding that the imprisonment was not 

         sufficiently severe.

              Because the BIA simply stated that the past persecution alone did not 

         compel a grant of asylum, Ms. Woldemeskel argues that the BIA abused its 

         discretion by not engaging in an individualized review of the evidence. 

         Although we may, of course, review the BIA's order for "procedural 

         regularity," we have recognized the BIA need not "write an exegesis on every 

         contention."  Panrit v. INS, 19 F.3d 544, 545 (10th Cir. 1994) (internal 

         quotation marks omitted).  Instead, the BIA must "consider the issues and 

         announce its decision in terms sufficient to enable us, as a reviewing court, to 

         perceive that it has heard and considered the arguments rather than merely 

         reacted."  Id.  Given the BIA's detailed recitation of facts and its 

         acknowledgment that much time has passed since Ms. Woldemeskel's ordeal, 

         we are satisfied that the BIA heard and considered all the evidence and 

         arguments.  Moreover, we note the governing regulation explicitly requires that

         the asylum applicant "demonstrate[] compelling reasons" for her unwillingness 

         to return, 8 C.F.R. . 208.13(b)(1)(iii)(A), in order to be eligible for asylum on 

         humanitarian grounds.  Although the BIA appears to have exercised its 

         discretion in denying her humanitarian claim, Ms. Woldemeskel has arguably 

         failed to establish her eligibility by asserting compelling reasons for her 

         unwillingness to return.

              Ms. Woldemeskel also argues the INS failed to rebut the presumption of 

         future persecution created by the evidence of past persecution.  This argument 

         clearly fails because the record contains considerable evidence that conditions 

         in Ethiopia changed with the 1991 transition in power.  Furthermore, both the 

         immigration judge and the BIA acknowledged the 1991 change in government 

         and concomitant change in country conditions.  The presumption was clearly 

         rebutted, shifting the burden back to Ms. Woldemeskel to prove she is eligible 

         for refugee status because of a well-founded fear of persecution under the 

         TGE, rather than the Mengistu regime.

         2.   Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

              Ms. Woldemeskel may prove a well-founded fear of persecution based on 

         her Amhara ethnicity or political opinion in one of two ways: she may 

         demonstrate that she would be singled out personally for persecution in 

         Ethiopia, or she may show she has a reasonable fear of persecution because of 

         her membership in a group subject to "a pattern or practice of persecution."  8

         C.F.R. . 208.13(b)(2)(iii)(A)-(B).  The group must consist "of persons 

         similarly situated to [her] on account of race, religion, nationality, membership 

         in a particular social group, or political opinion."  Id. . 208.13(b)(2)(iii)(A). 

         The BIA concluded she failed to meet her burden of proof under either 

         approach and we agree.  Although Ms. Woldemeskel may subjectively fear 

         future persecution in Ethiopia, she has failed to meet her burden in proving an 

         objectively reasonable fear of persecution should she return to Ethiopia.

              The BIA concluded the record does not support a finding that Ms. 

         Woldemeskel is a member of a group currently subject to a pattern or practice 

         of  persecution.  We agree with the BIA's conclusion because, although the 

         record does show continued political unrest and ethnic conflict in Ethiopia, it 

         does not show that members of the AAPO or people of Amhara heritage are 

         subject to a pattern or practice of persecution.  A pattern or practice of 

         persecution has been defined as "something on the order of organized or 

         systematic or pervasive persecution."  Makonnen v. INS, 44 F.3d 1378, 1383 

         (8th Cir. 1995).  The record contains evidence that the EPRDP, the 

         organization that controlled the TGE and that is now in power, may be 

         responsible for various human rights violations, including extra-judicial 

         killings and torture, but the evidence does not support the conclusion that 

         certain groups suffer systematic or pervasive persecution.  Some evidence 

         demonstrates that the EPRDF has imprisoned and harassed members of

         political opposition groups and that faculty members of Amhara ethnicity have 

         been dismissed from the university.  This evidence, however, does not support a 

         finding of systematic and pervasive persecution.

              Moreover, Ms. Woldemeskel failed to prove she is similarly situated to 

         individuals currently targeted for harassment and discrimination.  The evidence 

         shows that many, if not all, of the victims of harassment and intimidation are 

         AAPO leaders and outspoken activists.  For example, the 1994 State Report on 

         Ethiopia's country conditions acknowledges that AAPO activists believed by 

         the TGE to advocate violence or insurrection are often arrested, but regular 

         AAPO members have not been targeted.  Ms. Woldemeskel has failed to prove 

         that her position in the AAPO is similar to those previously targeted by the 

         government.  See, e.g., Feleke v. INS, 118 F.3d 594, 598 (8th Cir. 1997) 

         (requiring asylum applicant prove that his position in a political opposition 

         group was similar to those members of the group subject to persecution).

              In addition to finding that Ms. Woldemeskel is not similarly situated to 

         individuals undergoing persecution, the BIA also concluded the evidence failed 

         to support Ms. Woldemeskel's claim that she will be personally singled out for 

         persecution.  Even if she and her husband were fired because of their ethnicity, 

         this fact alone does not constitute persecution.  As both the immigration judge 

         and the BIA noted, governmental employees are often replaced when a new 

         administration takes office.  Furthermore, we have recognized that termination

         of employment or fear of unemployment does notÄwithout moreÄsupport a 

         grant of asylum.  Baka, 963 F.2d at 1379 (citing Zalega v. INS, 916 F.2d 1257, 

         1260 (7th Cir. 1990) (requiring substantial economic detriment to support 

         grant of asylum)).  In addition, like the BIA, we need not address whether her 

         husband's political opinions will be imputed to Ms. Woldemeskel because the 

         evidence in the record does not show clearly that he was arrested based on his 

         political opinion and activism.  In order to prove a well-founded fear of 

         persecution based on her political opinion, Ms. Woldemeskel had the burden of 

         proving she fears particularized persecution targeted at her personally.  Instead, 

         the record only supports a finding that she may experience political alienation 

         because she disagrees with the government's policies.  See Safaie v. INS, 25 

         F.3d 636, 640 (8th Cir. 1994) (noting that an asylum applicant's disagreement 

         with repressive governmental policies is insufficient to establish refugee 


              In support of her argument that she has a well-founded fear of 

         individualized persecution, Ms. Woldemeskel challenges the BIA's refusal to 

         consider an allegedly official Ethiopian document, which orders her arrest for 

         her political involvement with the AAPO.  She claims this document proves the 

         government will seek to arrest her upon her return.  The immigration judge and 

         the BIA, however, did not consider the document because it was not

         authenticated according to regulation, see 8 C.F.R. . 287.6(a)-(b),(3) and its 

         timing and content raise doubts about its credibility.  The document 

         conveniently surfaced as Ms. Woldemeskel was preparing her asylum 

         application, having last been in the possession of her brother.  In addition, it 

         contains self-serving information totally unnecessary for authorization of an 

         arrest but useful in preparing an asylum application, such as details regarding 

         Ms. Woldemeskel's friend, her political activity, and her departure from 

         Ethiopia.  We may not weigh the evidence, and we will not question the 

         immigration judge's or BIA's credibility determinations as long as they are 

         substantially reasonable.   Given the document's timing and content, the BIA 

         reached a reasonable conclusion supported by substantial evidence.  In short, 

         the record supports the BIA's decision that Ms. Woldemeskel did not meet her 

         burden in establishing a well-founded fear of persecution.

         C.   Administrative Notice

              Ms. Woldemeskel argues that the BIA violated her Fifth Amendment right 

         to due process by taking administrative notice of three facts contained in the
		  State Department's 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and not 

         providing her with an opportunity to respond to these facts.  Because of their 

         specialized knowledge in certain specific subject areas, administrative agencies 

         may "take notice of technical or scientific facts that are within the agency's 

         area of expertise."  Llana-Castellon v. INS, 16 F.3d 1093, 1096 (10th Cir. 

         1994) (internal quotation marks omitted).  It is well established that the BIA 

         "may take administrative notice of commonly acknowledged facts, which may 

         include current events bearing on an applicant's well-founded fear of 

         persecution."  Kowalczyk v. INS, 245 F.3d 1143, 1147 (10th Cir. 2001) 

         (internal quotation marks omitted).  In addition, the BIA "may draw reasonable 

         inferences from the evidence which comport with common sense."  Kapcia, 

         944 F.2d at 705 (internal quotation marks omitted).  

              The BIA may not, however, base its decision primarily on facts not 

         contained in the record without providing asylum applicants with notice and the 

         opportunity to rebut inferences drawn from those facts.  See id. 705-06; 

         Kowalczyk, 254 F.3d at 1147-48.  We have repeatedly recognized that 

         individuals subject to deportation are entitled to procedural due process, which 

         provides an "`opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful 

         (3)      Because the BIA did not rely solely on her failure to follow the 
         regulation, we need not address Ms. Woldemeskel's argument that, under prior 
         BIA decisions, her failure to comply with the regulation's procedures does not 
         automatically invalidate the document.  Similarly, we need not discuss her 
         argument that she did not have to comply with the regulation because both the 
         INS and the immigration judge conceded that a copy was sufficient.  Even if the 
         document had been authenticated under the regulation, the immigration judge 
         and the BIA remained free to assess its credibility.

         manner.'" See, e.g., Llana-Castellon, 16 F.3d at 1096 (internal quotation marks 

         omitted) (quoting Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333 (1976)).  

              In Ms. Woldemeskel's case, however, the BIA did not base its decision
		 on the administratively noticed facts, which at most merely supplement the 

         BIA's conclusion that "[t]here is no basis in the record upon which to conclude 

         that persons similarly situated as the respondent are persecuted in Ethiopia 

         simply on account of their Amhara ethnicity or their membership in the 

         AAPO."  In re Woldemeskel, No. A29 910 501, at 2 (BIA May 15, 2000).  As 

         we have already discussed, the record lacks evidence showing Ms. 

         Woldemeskel had a well-founded fear of persecution based on her AAPO 

         membership or Amhara ethnicity.  Ms. Woldemeskel would first have to meet 

         her burden of proof before the three facts from the State Department report 

         would have any detrimental effect on her case.  

              Even if she had established statutory eligibility, the administratively 

         noticed facts would have little impact on her case.  The first fact recognizes 

         the establishment in 1992 of a special prosecutor's office committed to 

         vindicating human rights violations under the Mengistu regimeÄa detail also 

         included in the record.  The second fact simply recognizes that the EPRDF 

         formally replaced the TGE in 1995, a fact with little significance because both 

         parties acknowledge that the TGE was dominated by the EPRDF; hence, the 

         BIA's recognition of the 1995 transition is at most an acknowledgment that 

         country conditions today are similar to those under the TGE.  The final fact 

         notes that political opposition parties are anticipated to participate in the May 

         2000 elections.  We recognize that this is a misstatement of the 1999 report,

         which indicates that opposition parties are expected to protest.  But although 

         this is a rather disconcerting error, the reality that opposition groups planned 

         to protest does not help Ms. Woldemeskel prove her case for asylum.

                          III.  Withholding of Deportation

              An asylum application also includes a request for withholding of 

         deportation, which the Attorney General must grant if the statutory criteria are 

         met.  An applicant is entitled to withholding of deportation if the Attorney 

         General "determines that [the applicant's] life or freedom would be threatened . 

         . . on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social 

         group, or political opinion."  8 U.S.C. . 1253(h) (1994 & Supp. 1995).  The 

         burden of proof for withholding of deportation is, however, significantly higher 

         than that for asylum.  In order to demonstrate eligibility for withholding of 

         deportation, the applicant must establish a "clear probability of persecution" 

         through presentation of "evidence establishing that it is more likely than not 

         that [the applicant] would be subject to persecution on one of the specified 

         grounds."  INS v. Stevic, 467 U.S. 407, 429-30 (1984).  Because substantial 

         evidence supports the BIA's decision denying the asylum claim, Ms. 

         Woldemeskel clearly did not carry her burden of proof under the more 

         stringent standard required for withholding of deportation.  See, e.g., 

         Nazaraghaie, 102 F.3d at 465; Kapcia, 944 F.2d at 709.

              We accordingly deny the petition for review and AFFIRM the BIA's
         decision to deny asylum and withholding of deportation and to grant voluntary 


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