Supreme Court shuts down attempt to treat all asylum-seekers’ testimony as truthful

The Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stating that in immigration cases, noncitizens seeking asylum must be treated as credible or true by the government.

“The Ninth Circuit’s rule has no proper place in a reviewing court’s analysis,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote of the circuit’s decision to presume credibility on the part of two men who lied to the government regarding their need for asylum.

The two men involved in the case, Cesar Alcaraz-Enriquez and Ming Dai, were found to be ineligible for asylum after major discrepancies were revealed in their testimonies. Alcaraz-Enriquez was accused of lying about beating and raping his girlfriend. Dai was accused of concealing a visit to China when his asylum claim was centered around fleeing the communist country.

Gorsuch wrote in both of the men’s cases that the 9th Circuit had no place in creating and imposing its own rules on the government’s responsibilities under the Immigration and Nationality Act when the Board of Immigration Appeals is tasked with governing that area.

“When it comes to questions of fact — such as the circumstances surrounding Mr. Alcaraz-Enriquez’s prior conviction or Mr. Dai’s alleged persecution — the INA provides that a reviewing court must accept ‘administrative findings’ as ‘conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude to the contrary,'” Gorsuch wrote.

In Ding’s case, he sought asylum in the United States after supposedly fleeing China based on the country’s policy on forced abortions. He said that his wife was abducted, and he was beaten in 2009 after she became pregnant with their second child. “Please grant me asylum so that I can bring my wife and daughter to safety in the USA,” he said in his asylum application.

Later, after being pressed, he agreed to tell the “real story,” according to Gorsuch. “Mr. Dai proceeded to admit that his daughter returned to China to go to school; that his wife chose to return to her job and her elderly father; that Mr. Dai did not have a job in China, and this was why he stayed in the United States,” he wrote.

An immigration judge and the Bureau of Immigration Appeals rejected Ding’s application for asylum. However, neither the judge nor the board concluded that his original story was not credible. Ding appealed the decision, and the 9th Circuit granted him asylum, stating that his reasons for seeking asylum should be “deemed” as credible and true.

The second case involved Mexican national Cesar Alcaraz-Enriquez, who was arrested while illegally entering the United States. He said he feared for his life if he was forced to return to Mexico. Immigration agents later learned that he was convicted of abducting and brutally beating his then-girlfriend in California.

Enriquez told immigration agents that he believed he didn’t hit her “that hard” and argued he was trying to protect his young daughter from the girlfriend. Immigration judges denied his request for asylum, he appealed, and the 9th Circuit granted him asylum.