Liang v. Att’y Gen.

The petitioner was a  Chinese national who sought asylum in the United States because Chinese authorities severely beat him when they discovered him practicing Christianity in 2000. Once the beating ended, the officials warned the petitioner: If we catch you in a church again, we will throw you back in jail. A decade later, he fled to the US and received numerous letters that warned he would be harmed if he returned to China. Before the Immigration Judge, the Government conceded that it “would certainly not argue that” the 2000 incident, if true, was not persecution. The IJ found the petitioner credible but characterized the beating and jailing together as a “single incident” and held it was not “sufficiently egregious” to amount to past persecution. As such, the IJ dismissed the petition. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The Third Circuit disagreed and reversed. It held that the IJ’s procedure was flawed; the IJ should have decided whether the aggregate effect of the beating and threats rose to the level of persecution. If the petitioner was persecuted, the IJ was bound to presume that the petitioner would face future persecution if he returned to China. The IJ should then determine if the evidence rebutted that presumption.

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