Monday, June 25, 2007

Zheng (not precedential): Asylum-seekers do not have to be experts

In Zheng v. Gonzales, No. 06-2751 (3d Cir. June 25, 2007) (not precedential), the Third Circuit overturned Immigration Judge Donald V. Ferlise and the BIA for erroneously denying asylum for someone who did not have a deep understanding of Christianity.

If someone seeking asylum admits that the underground church he attended did not have an extensive depth in its teaching, then it is improper to find him not believable just because he does not have a deep understanding of his religion. As long as the depth of his understanding is consistent with his story, it is improper to conclude his limited knowledge means he is lying about his religious belief. Other supposed inconsistencies disappear on examination. IJ Ferlise and the BIA also relied on flawed reasoning and speculation, such as their speculative belief nobody would travel from Philadelphia to New York City to attend their favorite church.

After around 2 years of time consumed in appealing the case, the Third Circuit remanded the case for in-depth proceedings in a fair hearing on whether he deserves asylum.


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