Immigration; Asylum; China
The BIA reasonably concluded that an asylum-seeker from China failed to show that persecutions of Christians constitutes a changed circumstance.
“The Board also thought that Gao’s religious conversion represented only a change in his personal circumstances, based on his actions in the United States, and that it therefore does not qualify him for relief from the filing deadline for motions to reopen. See 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7)(C)(i); Liang v. Holder, 626 F.3d 983, 988 (7th Cir. 2010). But we think that in this respect the Board misunderstood Gao’s argument. Although his conversion to Christianity (the genuineness of which no one has challenged) occurred in the United States, Gao is arguing that circumstances for Christians in China have appreciably deteriorated over the years since he has been here. The right to choose one’s religion is part of the religious freedom that is recognized in the United States. See Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303 (1940) (‘Freedom of conscience and freedom to adhere to such religious organization or form of worship as the
individual may choose cannot be restricted by law.’). The same is true at the global level. See, e.g., International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 18 (providing that the right to freedom of ‘thought, conscience and religion’ . . . ‘shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of [the person’s] choice’),
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx (last visited July 9, 2013). The fact that Gao did not become a Christian until he reached the United States means that on the merits, he could not show past persecution on that ground, but it would not prevent him from showing changed conditions in China since the time he left with respect to the treatment of Christians, nor would it prevent him from showing a well-founded fear of future persecution. This does not help Gao, of course, because the Board rejected his effort to satisfy his threshold burden to prove changed country conditions.”
12-2635 Gao v. Holder
Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals, Wood, J.