Asylum • Material Changes in Country Conditions

Zhu v. Attorney General of U.S., PICS Case No. 14-0395 (3d Cir. March 4, 2014) Shwartz, J. (22 pages).

Where the BIA failed to meaningfully consider evidence of material changes in country conditions presented by an asylum seeker, and explain why it did or did not find such evidence to be persuasive or authentic, its decision to deny a petition to reopen a request for asylum was remanded for the BIA to fully reexamine and explain its evidentiary findings. Granted.

Petitioner Fei Yan Zhu brought the petition to reopen her application for asylum. Petitioner enter the United States without proper documentation, seeking asylum from the People’s Republic of China after alleging that government officials, pursuant to population control measures, tried to force her to wear an intrauterine device after she began living with her boyfriend. After the denial of her application, petitioner brought a series of petitions to reopen her application, citing the fact that she had since married and had children, and material changes in country conditions including a new policy of counting children born outside the PRC, and new policies of forced sterilizations in petitioner’s home province. In support, petitioner presented various documents purportedly from the U.S. government, Chinese government websites, Chinese governmental officials and entities, and international medial outlets.

Despite petitioner’s evidence, the BIA denied her petition, finding that she had failed to demonstrate a material change in country conditions. Petitioner sought review with the court.

The court ruled that the BIA’s review was perfunctory, as it had failed to meaningfully consider documentation presented by the petitioner and/or fully explain and analyze why it found the documentation not authentic or persuasive.

As to the documents from the PRC, the court found that said documents, if authentic, may be probative, but because the BIA failed to explain whether they found the documents inauthentic or irrelevant, the matter had to be remanded to the BIA for reexamination and explanation of its findings.

The court also found that the BIA failed to explain why it found information concerning activities outside petitioner’s home province to be relevant but not documentation purportedly from officials in petitioner’s home province.

However, the court held that the BIA had adequately considered and explained its rejection of the expert opinion petitioner offered to authenticate documents purportedly from petitioner’s home province.

Finally, the court also held that the BIA failed to give full consideration to documents from U.S. government agencies presented by petitioner. The court found that the BIA’s treatment of such documents was inconsistent, as it found parts of certain reports to be persuasive while, without explanation, rejecting other parts of the same reports. Accordingly, the court ruled that the BIA must give full consideration to such reports and explain how they did or did not support petitioner’s position.