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Harminder Singh v. Eric H. Holder Jr

May 3, 2011

HARMINDER SINGH, PETITIONER,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL,
RESPONDENT.



On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency No. A078-668-359

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Opinion by Judge Kleinfeld

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Argued and Submitted September 2, 2009-San Francisco, California

Before: J. Clifford Wallace, Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain and Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

KLEINFELD, Circuit Judge:

We address the effect of lying in an asylum application and to an asylum officer on an adverse credibility finding.

FACTS

Harminder Singh is a native and citizen of India. He, his parents, and his sisters went to Canada, where they lived for two and a half years. They applied unsuccessfully for asylum in Canada. After the denial, they somehow entered the United States "without inspection," and Singh applied for asylum here. The Immigration Judge (IJ) denied his claim, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed without opinion, and Singh petitions for review. We deny the petition.

Singh's application for asylum in the United States, which he swore to be true, was, as he has subsequently acknowledged, a lie. He answered "no" to the question asking whether he had ever filed for or been granted or denied asylum by any other country, and claimed to have resided in India during the two and a half years he actually lived in Canada. He submitted numerous documents with the application, including a sworn affidavit stating that the affiant knew Singh's whole family was active in Sikh politics and he, his father, and his mother had been arrested several times, a statement by an Indian lawyer alleging the same thing, and a hospital certification indicating that Singh had been treated for a week for "multiple blunt injuries on [his] whole body." Singh subsequently admitted that all these documents were fake, he was never arrested, his mother was never arrested, and Singh had been in Canada at the time of the supposed medical treatment in India.

The political persecution Singh claimed in his asylum application was for Sikh activism. He claimed that he, his father, and his mother had all been arrested repeatedly because of the family's participation in Sikh politics. The police, he said, had tortured both him and his father in the past and had continued their persecution until he left India in 2000. Subsequently, he admitted that he was in Canada from 1997 on, his mother had never been arrested, and Singh himself had never been arrested, nor had he been tortured or beaten by the police. Nor was his family engaged in Sikh activism. He had simply lied.

Singh had two asylum interviews. He testified that at the first one, he verified that everything in his false application was true because Avtar Singh Gill, who had prepared Singh's immigration application, accompanied him and told him to stick to his story. The second time, Gill was not present, but Singh was upset because of the recent death of his mother, and Gill had threatened to tell the government the truth, that he had been in Canada when he had claimed to be in India, so Singh again reaffirmed the truth of the false application.

Subsequently Singh filed what he called "corrections" to his asylum application and testified before the IJ about the falsehoods in it. He conceded that he had left India three years before coming to the United States. The "corrections" disclosed two and a half years' residence and his unsuccessful application for asylum in Canada. According to the new statement, his father had been a successful professional photographer at a tourist location in Kashmir (not the owner of a refrigeration and air-conditioning business as Singh had previously sworn), but had moved to Delhi in 1990 because of Muslim hostility to non-Muslims, and had subleased his Kashmir property to a Muslim. The police had arrested his father in 1996 on suspicion of aiding Kashmiri separatists (not Sikh activism), and after his father was released, the family moved to Canada. Far from being active in Sikh politics, Singh's father was not a member of any political ...


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