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Inappropriate and possibly biased comments by an immigration judge have led the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the denial of an asylum application and could result in the reassignment of the case to another judge. The 2d Circuit said Immigration Judge (IJ) Jeffrey S. Chase made the comments to a Chinese man who claimed that government officials forced his wife to have an abortion. Chase made several statements, including chastising petitioner Guo-Le Huang for having once given up a baby girl for adoption, which the court felt made a transfer of the case to a new judge appropriate on remand if the Board of Immigration Appeals believes further proceedings are necessary. Judge Jon Newman wrote the opinion for the court in Huang v. Gonzales, No. 04-1032-ag. He was joined by judges Wilfred Feinberg and Robert Katzmann. Newman concluded that “this is the rare case where remand is required because of the IJ’s apparent bias and hostility toward Huang. The hearings included several instances of questioning by the IJ that were at least inappropriate and at worst indicative of bias against Chinese witnesses.” Chase had found Huang’s credibility dubious on several points during his hearing on the asylum application. Huang claimed that when government officials came for his wife to force her to have an abortion, he confronted them, saying “the Chinese government does not recognize human rights and does not recognize humanity.” He admitted that he and his wife gave up a baby daughter for adoption in 1988 and openly had a son in 1990, after which the government forced his wife to use an intrauterine device (IUD). In 1997, he and his wife secretly visited a doctor and had the IUD removed, and his wife then became pregnant with the baby she was forced to abort. After several appearances before Chase, Huang’s hearing was held on Sept. 21, 2001. Chase did not believe that a document presented by Huang was authentic: a document issued by the officials that purported to state his wife had “severely violated the family planning policy” and had an abortion “enforced” upon her in September 1998 and a second IUD inserted in November 1998. Chase was openly skeptical as to why village officials would issue a document memorializing a persecution that the national government denies is part of official policy. He called the document “clearly . . . fraudulent.” The judge called Huang’s giving up his baby daughter for adoption “a very sexist act, a very, if we are talking about human rights, inhumane act, and his reasons for doing it were highly selfish.” The judge disbelieved Huang’s confrontation with the officials outside his home, saying: “An uneducated villager, such as the applicant, really would not be making human rights arguments, basing it on forms of government or a government’s ideology.” The Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the immigration judge in a two-page opinion in which it accepted only one of the judge’s reasons for denying the application: the allegedly fraudulent document. It added a few reasons of its own, including an alleged discrepancy in the month of the pregnancy in which the abortion occurred and its belief from the record that Huang’s testimony was “confusing and nonresponsive.” Remanding Huang’s petition to the immigration appeals board, Newman said Huang’s testimony on the document was “mischaracterized” by Chase, who failed to credit his explanation: that the officials issued it to show that Huang’s wife had already been punished for her violation and no more action need be taken. At a minimum, the court said, a new judge should consider whether the document is fraudulent in light of all of the evidence.

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