Missouri Immigration Attorney Applauds Ninth Circuit Asylum Ruling

In this case, Mr. Singh was an Indian citizen from the state of Punjab.  He alleged that because of his politcal activities, government authorities had arrested and tortured him on four separate instances.  He fled to the U.S. and claimed to have arrived in the U.S. on October 20, 2004 without inspection.  In the fall of 2005, he filed for asylum.

Generally, asylum claims must be filed within one year of the asylee’s last arrival.  The immigration judge ruled that the asylum claim was untimely filed.  The judge did not say that he did not believe the asylum applicant, but rather that Mr. Singh’s testimony alone could not establish his last date of entry “by clear and convincing evidence.”  Basically, the immigration court said that the asylee’s testimony alone could not satisfy the standard.

The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in an en banc decision (decision by the entire Court), found the BIA had erred in imposing the corroboration requirement on the timeliness question.  Specifically, the Court said that simply because other provisions of the asylum statutes required corroboration, this did not mean that other provisions were governed by that same requirement.  The Court held that “[n]othing in the text of the statue allows the corroboration provision of [one portion of the asylum statutes] to be imported magically into … the provision establishing the one-year filing deadline.”  In fact, the rules of statutory construction required the opposite result.

In the end, the Court remanded the case back to the immigration judge for further proceedings – namely, the adjudication of Mr. Singh’s asylum application.