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Yang v. Lynch

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 12, 2016

Guihu Yang, Petitioner,
Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent.

          Argued June 8, 2016

         Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A089-678-703

          Before Bauer, Manion, and Kanne, Circuit Judges.


         Guihu Yang, a 52-year-old Chinese citizen from Shanxi province, petitions for review of the denial of his application for asylum based on his fears of forced sterilization under China's one-child policy. Because substantial evidence supports the IJ's conclusions that Yang was not credible and that he did not adequately corroborate his account, we deny the petition.


         Yang came to the United States in 2007 on a business-visitor visa he obtained by misrepresenting to U.S. officials that he hoped to attend a university conference. A few months later, he applied for asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, asserting that his wife twice had been forced to undergo abortions and that he had been fired from his job for refusing to be sterilized. His application was denied, and he was placed in removal proceedings for having overstayed his visa.

         At his removal hearing, Yang renewed his application for asylum and testified about his family's encounters with China's family-planning apparatus. Yang and his wife, Xiping Yao, had a son born in 1990. The son apparently was in poor health. When asked to describe his son's condition, Yang simply said that the boy was "very weak" and caught colds easily but doctors' examinations produced no exact diagnosis. According to Yang, their son's poor health was the reason that he and his wife wanted to have a second child. In 2002 Yao became pregnant, and the couple sought permission to have a second child from the local birth-control committee. Their request was denied. Family-planning officials then began threatening them with fines and loss of their jobs unless Yao underwent an abortion. The couple eventually gave in, though Yang maintains that they had no real choice. After the abortion, officials continued to visit their home once or twice a month to remind them that they were not free to have another child.

         In late 2006, Yao became pregnant again. To avoid attention, she moved in with Yang's parents in a village about an hour's drive away. But within a month, family-planning officials from her workplace discovered her whereabouts, showing up at the home one night. Yang, who was not present because he had remained in the city to continue working, testified that the authorities "intimidated" her over the course of six hours and then forcibly took her to the hospital to have an abortion.

         Yao also testified at Yang's asylum hearing and expanded on this episode. She said that the officials wore her down with their threats and intimidation, until she agreed to go back to her workplace and "resolve" the matter. On the ride back she fell asleep and awakened to find the car parked outside of a hospital. The officials dragged her out of the car, and at some point during her struggle with them she fell down a flight of stairs and was knocked unconscious. She said that the fall fractured her left arm and caused her to bleed from her lower body. Upon regaining consciousness, she realized that she had had an abortion. She remained in the hospital for three months-a stay necessitated, she said, because of her fractured arm.

         After the episode, family-planning officials wanted Yang to be sterilized; his wife's health, they said, was too compromised after the abortion to undergo the procedure herself. Yang refused, and a few months later his employer fired him for doing so. Family-planning officials also frequented his home and demanded that he undergo sterilization. Fearing these visits, Yang said that he avoided his home and stayed with friends or relatives. On the few occasions that he did return home and encountered officials, he rebuffed them.

         In November 2007 Yang left China, alleging that he feared being forcibly sterilized. Since his departure, his wife and neighbors have told him that officials continue to look for him. His wife joined him in the United States in October 2012 on a tourist visa that she overstayed.

         Yang supplemented his application with corroborative documents. He submitted a medical record from Yao's hospital stay-saying that she was hospitalized for three months because of a bone fracture and "broken nerve" on her left arm. He also included two letters from neighbors in China saying that family-planning officials had inquired about his whereabouts, as well as a letter from his workplace manager stating that he was fired for refusing to be sterilized, as required by the company's family-planning officials.

         The IJ disbelieved the testimony of Yang and his wife, and denied his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ offered six reasons for finding Yang not credible. One reason had to do with Yang's testimony that he did not know in 2006 whether he could have a second child legally; the IJ found this testimony implausible, given Yao's abortion in 2002 and the frequent harassment that the couple said they endured from family-planning officials. Among other reasons, the IJ also believed that Yang had testified inconsistently about the details surrounding his son's allegedly poor health, about the visits that family-planning officials purportedly made to his home after his wife's second abortion, and about the particular circumstances in which he was fired from his job. The IJ also found Yao not credible, primarily because she struggled to answer questions and had difficulty remembering the details of the second abortion. Finally, the IJ concluded that, under the terms of the REAL ID Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(ii)/ Yang had not provided sufficient corroborative evidence to carry his burden of proof because he did not provide medical records confirming treatments or procedures received by either his wife or son during their hospitalizations.

         The Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the IJ's decision, concluding that the IJ had properly supported her findings concerning credibility and corroboration. The Board highlighted three of the IJ's reasons for finding Yang not credible. First, Yang's statement that he did not know whether he and his wife legally could have a second child in 2006 was implausible, given the couple's past run-ins with family-planning officials and Yao's forced abortion earlier in 2002. Second, in his written statement accompanying his initial asylum application, Yang failed to mention any encounters with family-planning officials after his wife's second abortion or any reports that these officials sought him after he ...

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