8th Circuit Upholds Denial of Withholding of Removal for Chinese Woman Abused by Her Mother

A Chinese woman who suffered persecution at the hands of her mother as a child was not entitled to withholding of removal according to a case handed down last week by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The woman’s mother had beaten and abused her throughout her childhood until she escaped her mother by moving to Hong Kong in 1999.

The woman came to the U.S. in 2004 on a nonimmigrant visa, but never went home.  In 2008, ICE initiated deportation proceedings against the woman.  She conceded that she was subject to being removed from the U.S., but sought withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture as an abuse victim.  The woman argued that the abuse she suffered was due to her memberhsip in a particular social group, namely “Chinese daughters viewed as property by virtue of their position within a domestic relationship.”  The immigration judge found the woman credible, but found she was not entitled to asylum, withholding or CAT protection.  The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed and she appealed to the 8th Circuit Court in St. Louis Missouri.

The Court began its analysis by stating that the woman had to prove her “life or freedom would be threatened” in her home country because of her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group.”  The immigration judge had assumed that the woman had suffered past persecution, which then shifted the burden to the government to rebut the accompanying presumption that she would suffer persecution in the future.

The appellate Court concluded that the government had satisfied its burden by showing that the woman was now an adult who could live free of her mother in China.  Withholding was inappropriate due to a change in circumstances.  Because she was no longer dependent on her mother and because China had reportedly been enforcing adult abuse complaints, the Court affirmed the decision denying relief to the Chinese lady.

Eagleton