United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Immigration — petitions to reopen — changed conditions
Where an alien from China failed to show with any meaningful level of specificity that the persecution against his practice of Christianity had materially worsened since his asylum claim was denied in 1999, the BIA could have reasonably concluded that such evidence was insufficient to reopen his claim.
Though Zheng submits a fair amount of evidence demonstrating poor conditions for certain types of Christians today, such as evidence that proselytizing (which Zheng wishes to do) is forbidden, the only evidence that conditions materially worsened since 1999 amounts exclusively to the statements that protections for religious freedoms ‘deteriorated.’ Such highly generalized statements simply do not satisfy Zheng’s burden. Cf., e.g., Moosa, 644 F.3d at 387 (‘[G]eneral conditions of hardship that affect entire populations . . . are not persecution.’ (quotation marks and citation omitted)); Iglesias v. Mukasey, 540 F.3d 528, 532 (7th Cir. 2008) (single general statement about the ‘happily married couple’ was insufficient to demonstrate bona fide marriage). Zheng points to nothing in the reports, for example, that shows in what time frame conditions deteriorated, how conditions specifically deteriorated for those who practice Christianity in the manner that Zheng wishes to practice, or whether such persecution intensified in or around the region where Zheng expects to live. Cf. Moosa, 644 F.3d at 387 (evidence of ‘broad social strife’ occurring nearly 900 miles away from petitioner’s hometown was insufficient). Zheng points to evidence showing that conditions have worsened for attorneys who defend persecuted Christians, but he does not assert that he is an attorney. He points to evidence that China persecutes unregistered churches, but the evidence does not show how that persecution specifically worsened since 1999 or before, and more importantly, he does not allege that he belongs to, or would join, an unregistered church. In sum, none of the evidence illustrates with any meaningful level of specificity how China’s treatment of those who practice Christianity as Zheng wishes to do actually worsened from 1999 or before until today. ‘[B]ecause the BIA could have reasonably concluded’ that Zheng failed to demonstrate materially changed circumstances, ‘we need not remand because the alleged legal error was harmless.’ Iglesias, 540 F.3d at 532-33.”
On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals, Williams, J.