November 15, 2016
for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
Wang, a 25-year-old Chinese citizen (from Shenyang, the
capital of the northeastern province of Liaoning), petitions
for review of the denial of his applications for asylum and
withholding of removal based on his fear of religious
persecution for attending unsanctioned Christian gatherings.
Wang also challenges the Immigration Judge's finding that
his application was frivolous-a consequential finding that
bars him from obtaining any future immigration benefits. We
deny the petition with regard to the denial of his
applications for immigration relief, but grant the petition
with regard to the finding of frivolousness.
came to the United States in December 2010 on a student visa
he obtained to attend Benedictine University at Springfield
College in Springfield, Illinois. Wang never attended the
school, however, and instead worked part-time at various
restaurants in Chicago.
October 2011, Wang applied for asylum with the Department of
Homeland Security, but the asylum officer denied his
application, and DHS initiated removal proceedings against
him. Wang was charged with removability based on his failure
to comply with the conditions of the nonimmigrant status
under which he was admitted. At a hearing before the IJ, Wang
conceded his removability and renewed his application for
later hearing, Wang testified that he sought asylum based on
his fear of persecution for being a practicing Christian.
Wang said that he started practicing Christianity after
recovering from a month-long illness at age 17 thanks, in his
eyes, to the daily prayers of his Christian grandmother. He
then began accompanying his grandmother to Christian
gatherings at a local pastor's home. He preferred
attending these gatherings to those at the
government-sanctioned church, which he said was
"controlled by the Communists."
testified that he was injured in late 2009 during a police
raid on one of the pastor's gatherings. He said that he
was hit three times with a police baton, necessitating
medical treatment-first at the small clinic near his home,
and then a few days later at a larger hospital.
couple months later, in March 2010, Wang again got caught up
in a police raid during a Christian gathering, and this time
he was arrested and detained for a week. During this
detention, he said, he was interrogated, kicked, punched,
struck with a "leather whip, " and beaten with a
baton. His parents paid a fine to get him released, and he
sought treatment at the hospital for "bruises" and
a skin "rash." Later, the police continued to
"beat [him] up" every time they spotted him on the
wholly disbelieved Wang's testimony, and denied his
applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and
protection under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ found
Wang's testimony "riddled" with discrepancies,
"extremely implausible, incredible, and inconsistent,
" and the judge did not believe that Wang "even
attended an underground gathering or was a practicing
Christian in China." The IJ went so far as to impose a
frivolous filing bar against Wang, concluding that Wang's
documentation was "fabricated to support his
already-filed request for asylum." A frivolous finding
bar has the effect of permanently disqualifying an alien from
any "benefits" under the immigration laws.
See 8 U.S.C.A. § 1158(d)(6).
based his adverse credibility finding in large part on
inconsistencies between Wang's in-court testimony and his
submitted documents. These inconsistencies included the
following: (1) The medical record Wang submitted to the court
was from the village health department and not from the
hospital, as Wang testified; (2) Wang's application for
asylum stated that 10 police officers showed up at the 2009
raid, but he testified at his hearing that there were 17; (3)
Wang stated in his asylum application that he suffered a
concussion as a result of the 2010 beatings, but at his
hearing he testified that the concussion occurred during the
2009 incident; (4) A letter Wang submitted from his father
stated that Wang suffered a bone fracture as a result of the
police beatings, but Wang testified at the hearing that his
father's reference to the bone fracture may have been
"exaggerate[d] a little bit"; and (5) Wang's
father wrote in his letter that he, too, was a pious
Christian, but Wang denied at the hearing that his father
attended services with him.
also partially based his adverse credibility finding on
Wang's lack of evidence that he was a practicing
Christian. The IJ acknowledged a letter from one of
Wang's friends recounting their meeting at a Chicago
church, but the IJ noted that Wang did not claim that he had
been baptized or otherwise confirm that he was a practicing
also took a step further and ruled that Wang had filed a
frivolous asylum application. The IJ based this finding on
the same inconsistencies upon which he found Wang not
credible, as well as Wang's failure to supplement his
initial asylum application in 2011 with medical evidence, a
detention warrant, or other documents to corroborate his
mistreatment in 2009 and 2010. The IJ ...