513 F.3d 1255 (11th Cir. 2008), 07-11562, Chen v. U.S. Atty. Gen.

Docket Nº:07-11562.
Citation:513 F.3d 1255
Party Name:Su Qing CHEN, Petitioner, v. U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent.
Case Date:January 17, 2008
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1255

513 F.3d 1255 (11th Cir. 2008)

Su Qing CHEN, Petitioner,

v.

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent.

No. 07-11562.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

Jan. 17, 2008

Page 1256

Fengling Liu, Fengling Liu Law Office, New York City, for Chen.

Jesse M. Bless, David V. Bernal, Ana T. Zablah, U.S. Dept. of Justice, OIL, Washington, DC, for Respondent.

Petition for Review of a Decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Before ANDERSON, BLACK and HILL, Circuit Judges.

BLACK, Circuit Judge:

Su Qing Chen petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) decision upholding the Immigration Judge's (IJ) denial of her application for asylum and withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Chen argues the BIA erred in upholding the IJ's finding that Chen assisted in persecution and was therefore ineligible for relief. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we DENY the petition for review.

I. BACKGROUND

According to her undisputed testimony before the IJ, Chen began working at a governmental family planning office in her hometown of Changle City in Fujian Province, China in January 2003. She procured this employment through her uncle's influence and took it voluntarily. Chief among her duties was her responsibility to watch over pregnant women detained by Chinese authorities for violating the country's family planning policies. The authorities would detain these women in locked rooms at the facility until their scheduled forced abortions. Chen guarded the women at the facility. Authorities provided her with a rod or baton to use during her duties, although she never actually used the weapon against the detained women. She had access to the keys to the rooms in which the women were confined. When she accepted employment, Chen testified she knew the facility housed pregnant women scheduled for abortions, but she thought the forced abortion program was limited to women who were one or two months pregnant.

On the evening of February 14, 2003, Chen was on duty when a group of eight women were brought into the facility and placed in locked rooms. One of the women was crying, and Chen approached her to investigate. The woman explained to Chen she was upset because she was eight months pregnant with a boy but already had another child. She begged Chen to release her so she would not have to undergo a forced abortion. Chen said she was surprised to see the family planning policy enforced on a woman so close to full term. Chen retrieved the keys to the woman's room, unlocked it, and released her. Chen then left the facility.

She returned home, and the next day family planning officials brought her to their office. They terminated her position and scolded her for releasing the detained female. Chen was told to return home, and her activities would be watched. Chen stayed with her parents for a ten days but left their home out of fear of reprisal. From February 2003 until January 2005 she stayed in China but hid from the government, staying first with her aunt and later living on her own while holding sundry jobs at factories and restaurants. She then fled China for Thailand. Still afraid of retaliation by the government

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if she returned to China, Chen arranged to travel to the United States.

Chen arrived in the United States on May 21, 2005, and quickly was served with a Notice to Appear. She filed an application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), claiming she had a well-founded fear of persecution if sent back to China on account of her opposition to the family planning policy. The IJ held a hearing and, in a written opinion, denied her application. Finding Chen credible, the IJ ruled her termination by the family planning authorities did not constitute persecution. Additionally, the IJ found she had assisted in persecution and was ineligible for relief.

The BIA upheld the IJ on his finding that Chen was a persecutor and therefore ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal.1 Relying on the statutory disqualification for those who assist in persecution, the BIA found Chen's participation as a guard at the family planning facility rose to the level of "assistance" required under the statute. Chen timely filed a petition for review of the BIA's decision.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The BIA's determinations on questions of law are reviewed de novo. See Assa'ad v. U.S. Att'y Gen. 332 F.3d 1321, 1326 (11th Cir. 2003). Findings of fact must be supported by substantial evidence. Djonda v. U.S. Att'y Gen., 493 F.3d 1245, 1249 (11th Cir. 2007). Findings of fact are followed unless a reasonable factfinder would be compelled to a conclusion contrary to that of the Immigration Court. Lonyem v. U.S. Att'y Gen., 352...

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