Asylum Approved—Imputed Political Opinion
January 7, 2015
On August 14, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal published its decision Singh v. Holder. BIA denied Indian petitioner’s political asylum and withholding of removal. Petitioner, an Indian citizen, thus appealed to the Circuit Court in San Francisco for an administrative review.
The crucial issue is whether the political intent or impression of the persecutor may be imposed on the persecuted may be imputed to the asylum seeker? Circuit Court thought that it could. This case is illustrative of this issue, because the asylum applicant did not engage in politically motivated activities, rather, he was abused multiple times because of imputed cause. The petitioner was in no way politically motivated when seeking asylum. Local police believed that the petitioner might be a terrorist for hiring a relatively capable domestic servant, who was later suspected to be a terrorist. He in fact sought asylum, only after the local police labeled him as political terrorist and abused him and his family accordingly.
In the court of law, though all the events in fact made Singh suffer like a political refugee, both Immigration Judge and Boards of Immigration Appeals agreed that Singh failed to establish that imputed political reasoning was central reason to persecution.
The dissent reasoned that the local police had a legitimate reason to gather information concerning a suspected terrorist. Therefore, only reliefs as entailed in the Convention against torture should be granted.
The majority of the Ninth Circuit Court held otherwise. The Court held that the motivation of the persecutors, as shown in obvious speech, should not be questioned (such as accusing asylum seeker a traitor or a subversive person). Further, if the government is interested in persecuting the applicant due to a certain relationship with another interested person, the fact may serve as indirect evidence. The Court further reasoned that this line of reasoning comports to the purpose of REAL ID act. Thus, review was granted and the case remanded for further proceeding in accordance with the opinion.
After all, the Congress has already considered the possibility of imputed political opinion imposed on refugees by persecutors.