Monday, January 27, 2014

2nd Circuit: Chinese Asylum Applicant Wrongly Questioned By IJ About Doctrinal Knowledge

In Chang Qiang Zhu v. Holder, (2d Cir., Jan. 23, 2013), the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded for further proceedings the denial by an Immigration Judge of an application for asylum, withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture brought by a Chinese Christian man who claimed religious persecution in China.  The court said in part:
The agency based its credibility determination primarily on Zhu’s testimony concerning his telling of the story of the biblical figure Paul to Chinese authorities during his detention. The agency found that Zhu’s demeanor while testifying was “hesitant” and “evasive” and his account of the story was inconsistent. The record, however, reveals that Zhu’s demeanor began to suffer only when the IJ required him to provide highly detailed information regarding the story of Paul. Indeed, while Zhu was able to explain that Paul was a disciple of Jesus Christ who persecuted Christians, and later converted to Christianity after being blinded on the road to Damascus, he struggled to answer more detailed questions such as what form Paul’s  persecution of Christians took or in what year Paul converted to Christianity. By inquiring of Zhu and expecting him to provide this extensive detail, virtually all of which he testified to accurately in any event, the IJ contravened our holding in Rizal v. Gonzales, 442 F.3d 84,90 (2d Cir. 2006), which prohibits relying on a petitioner’s lack of doctrinal knowledge as the basis for an adverse credibility determination or denying relief. 
The court also concluded that neither the Immigration Judge nor the Board of Immigration Appeal adequately considered Zhu's claim of a pattern or practice of persecuting Christians in China. The New York Daily News last week reported on the decision.