NEWS & ANALYSIS

Supreme Court Rules Asylum Applicants Bear Burden of Proof


The Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, finding immigration judges do not have to explicitly state that an asylum seeker’s story is not credible when finding against him or her.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion in the case. 

“The Ninth Circuit has long applied a special rule in immigration disputes,” Gorsuch wrote. “The rule provides that, in the absence of an explicit adverse credibility determination by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals, a reviewing court must treat a petitioning alien’s testimony as credible and true.” 

In the involved case, Chinese national Ming Dai claimed he was beaten and arrested in 2009 for trying to prevent Chinese authorities from aborting his second child under the previous one-child policy. Dai testified that when he tried to stop his wife’s abduction, police broke his ribs, dislocated his shoulder and threw him in jail for ten days. Dai noted that he lost his job, his wife was demoted and his daughter was denied admission to good schools, the Epoch Times reports. 

He came to the U.S. on a tourist visa and sought asylum shortly after his arrival. 

Gorsuch wrote that the burden rested on Dai to prove that he was a “refugee,” someone “unable or unwilling” to return to his home country because of “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution…for failure or refusal to undergo [involuntary sterilization] or for other resistance to a coercive population control program.” 

Dai failed to disclose the fact that his wife and daughter traveled to the United States and voluntarily returned to China. 

Dai “hesitated at some length” when faced with the facts, according to the immigration judge, and then admitted his daughter returned to China to go to school and his wife returned to her job. 

The immigration judge denied Dai’s claim, stating: “I do not find that [Dai’s] explanations for [his wife’s] return to China while he remained here are adequate.” 

The 9th Circuit saw things from a different perspective. 

The panel held that “in the absence of an explicit adverse credibility findings by the [immigration judge] or the [Board of Immigration Appeals],” he said, Dai’s testimony must be credible and true and he should be eligible for asylum. 

“The Ninth Circuit’s rule has no proper place in a reviewing court’s analysis. Nothing in the [Immigration and National Act] contemplates anything like the embellishment the Ninth Circuit has adopted.”