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Nirmal Singh; Kulwant Kaur v. Eric H. Holder Jr.

March 25, 2011

NIRMAL SINGH; KULWANT KAUR; SANJOT SINGH, PETITIONERS,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL, RESPONDENT.
KULWANT KAUR; SANJOT SINGH, PETITIONERS,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL, RESPONDENT.



On Petitions for Review of Orders of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency Nos. A072-172-796 A077-431-973 A077-431-974 Agency Nos.A077-431-973 A077-431-974

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kozinski, Chief Judge:

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Submitted January 12, 2011*fn1 San Francisco, California

Before: Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, John T. Noonan and Barry G. Silverman, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Chief Judge Kozinski;

Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Judge Noonan

OPINION

We consider whether lying to the immigration authorities is a sufficient basis for an adverse credibility finding, and when a lie uttered by one spouse may fairly be attributed to the other.

Facts

Nirmal Singh filed an asylum application soon after he came to the United States in 1994. He claimed that he had been persecuted in India because of his support for the Akali Dal Mann Party. Singh testified that he was arrested and severely beaten three times for his political activities, and that he believed the police murdered his brother for participating in a political protest. The asylum officer disbelieved Singh and referred his application to an immigration judge for adjudication in removal proceedings.

A few months later, Singh's wife Kulwant Kaur flew to the United States with their son. Singh picked them up at the airport and brought them to his home in San Jose. After they settled in, Kaur also applied for asylum. Someone apparently advised her that she couldn't be granted asylum if she said she was living with her husband, so she lied on her application form. She claimed that Singh was not in the United States and that she had no information as to his whereabouts. She also falsely indicated that Singh had never applied for asylum.

Kaur's interview went better than Singh's. She told the asylum officer that she had been arrested and raped because of her political activities in India. She again lied under oath about not knowing the whereabouts of her husband, and submitted an affidavit from Singh's father also claiming that he didn't know where his son was. And, of course, Kaur didn't mention that Singh had been denied asylum. The asylum officer believed Kaur and granted her application.

This gave Singh a second bite at the apple. He told the immigration judge in his own case that he planned to withdraw his asylum application. Rather than fighting the asylum officer's decision, Singh would join his wife's successful application. With Singh present in the courtroom, his lawyer falsely assured the IJ that the ...


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