183 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir. 1999), 98-70864, Singh v. Immigration & Naturalization Serv.

Docket Nº:98-70864
Citation:183 F.3d 1147
Case Date:July 21, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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183 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir. 1999)




No. 98-70864

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 21, 1999

Argued and Submitted June 16, 1999

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Alan M. Kaufman, San Francisco, California, for the petitioner.

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Kurt Larson and John C. Cunningham, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for the respondent.

On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. INS No. A74-149-590.

Before: Thomas G. Nelson, Michael Daly Hawkins, and Susan P. Graber, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge Graber; Dissent by Judge Hawkins

GRABER, Circuit Judge:

In this immigration case, we are called on to decide whether the adverse credibility findings by the Immigration Judge (IJ) and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) are supported by substantial evidence in the record. We hold that they are and, accordingly, deny the petition.


Petitioner entered the United States without inspection on May 1, 1995. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) later charged Petitioner with being deport- able under former section 241(a)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. S 1251(a)(1)(B) (1994) (renumbered S 1227(a)(1)(B)). He conceded deportability but applied for asylum, withholding of deportation, and voluntary departure.

After a hearing, the IJ approved Petitioner's application for voluntary departure, a decision from which no appeal has been taken. However, she denied Petitioner's application for asylum and for withholding of deportation on the ground that Petitioner had not presented credible evidence in support of his claims. The BIA affirmed the IJ's order. Petitioner timely sought review of the BIA's final order, arguing that its adverse credibility finding is not supported by substantial evidence.


Under section 208(a) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. S 1158(a), the Attorney General has discretion to grant asylum to aliens who qualify as "refugees" under the INA. See INS v. Elias- Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 481 (1992). A "refugee" is a person who is unwilling to return to the home country "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." 8 U.S.C. S 1101(a)(42).

An alien bears the burden of establishing eligibility for asylum. See Mejia-Paiz v. INS, 111 F.3d 720, 723 (9th Cir. 1997). An alien must show by credible, direct, and specific evidence an objectively reasonable basis for the claimed fear of persecution. See Prasad v. INS, 47 F.3d 336, 338 (9th Cir. 1995).

The Attorney General must grant withholding of deportation when an alien demonstrates a "clear probability" that, if the alien returns to the home country, the alien's "life or free- dom would be threatened" on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. INS v. Stevic, 467 U.S. 407, 429-30 (1984). As with asylum, an alien bears the burden of establishing eligibility for withholding of deportation. See Rebollo-Jovel v. INS, 794 F.2d 441, 448 (9th Cir. 1986). The burden of proof for withholding of deportation is higher than the burden of proof for asylum. See Prasad, 47 F.3d at 340. Therefore, if an alien fails to establish eligibility for asylum, then the alien necessarily fails to establish eligibility for withholding of deportation. See id.


We review credibility findings of an IJ and the BIA under a "substantial evidence" standard. See Ramos-Vasquez v. INS, 57 F.3d 857, 861 (9th Cir. 1995). That standard is "extremely deferential." Ghaly v. INS, 58 F.3d 1425, 1431 (9th Cir. 1995). The court must uphold the BIA's findings unless the evidence presented

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would compel a reasonable finder of fact to reach a contrary result, see de Leon-Barrios v. INS, 116 F.3d 391, 393 (9th Cir. 1997); however, minor inconsistencies in the record are not an adequate basis for an adverse credibility finding, see Mejia-Paiz, 111 F.3d at 726. " `[T]he possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency's finding from being supported by substantial evidence.' " Leon-Hernandez v. INS, 926 F.2d 902, 904 (9th Cir. 1991) (quoting American Textile Mfrs. Inst., Inc. v. Donovan, 452 U.S. 490, 523 (1981)).

When the BIA adopts an IJ's findings and reasoning, we review the IJ's opinion as if it were the opinion of the BIA. See Alaelua v. INS, 45 F.3d 1379, 1381-82 (9th Cir. 1995). Here, the BIA found that Petitioner's "testimony was not credible, based upon the reasons articulated in the Immigration Judge's decision." In addition to adopting her credibility findings, the BIA also adopted the IJ's reasoning. Accordingly, we apply the standard of review to the IJ's opinion.


At his deportation hearing, Petitioner testified to the fol- lowing facts. Petitioner is a native and citizen of India, having been born on January 4, 1960, in the village of Bhan Mazara in the Punjab. He testified that his name is "Hari Singh" and that "Satnam" is not his true first name.

On January 17, 1993, Petitioner was elected sarpanche (leader of the village council) of his village. As sarpanche, he had organizational, administrative, and economic responsibilities. A village council of seven members, whom Petitioner appointed, assisted him with these responsibilities.

Petitioner testified that he came to the United States because the Indian police had arrested him twice and had mistreated him during both arrests. Petitioner stated that his first arrest was related to a police attack on a family's house in his...

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