CHARNJIT SINGH; MANJEET KAUR; KRISHAN PREET SINGH; SIMAR PREET KAUR, Petitioners,
WILLIAM P. BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent.
Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration
STEWART, Chief Judge, and DAVIS and ELROD, Circuit Judges.
JENNIFER WALKER ELROD, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Charnjit Singh and his family members, who are natives and
citizens of India, petition for review of an order of the
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying them relief from
removal. We deny their petition for review.
Singh, his wife Manjeet, and their two children Krishan and
Simar came to the United States on temporary tourist visas
but overstayed their authorized period of stay. When the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated removal
proceedings against the Singhs, they conceded removability
but sought relief from removal by applying for asylum,
withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention
Against Torture (CAT). The immigration judge (IJ) held a
hearing in which the Singhs offered various types of
testimonial and documentary evidence.
basis of the Singhs' claim for relief was that Charnjit
feared returning to India because of the past harm that
Charnjit had suffered between the late 1980s and early 1990s
on account of his political involvement in the Khalistan
movement that sought to create a separate Sikh nation in the
Punjab region of India. In his testimony, Charnjit recounted
that he witnessed "Operation Blue Star" in 1984 in
which government forces attacked and massacred many Sikhs.
This experience prompted Charnjit to join the Khalistan
movement. Charnjit also testified that, because of his
involvement in the Khalistan movement, the Punjabi police
placed him on a list of terrorists and detained him in 1986,
1992, and 1993. During his 1992 detention, Charnjit was
physically mistreated and suffered a permanent injury to one
of his fingers. During the cross-examination by the DHS,
Charnjit stated that, at his wife's insistence, he
"steered away from [the] Khalistan movement" and
was no longer active in the movement after 1993.
testified that although his family eventually moved away to
Delhi, the Punjabi police traveled outside of their
jurisdiction to kidnap, physically abuse, and extort money
from Charnjit. For example, in 2001, 2008, and 2009, Charnjit
had to pay significant bribes to ransom himself or his wife
out of detention and to avoid harassment.
found that Charnjit suffered past persecution on account of
his religion and political opinion, thus entitling Charnjit a
rebuttable presumption of future persecution. However, the IJ
also found that the DHS rebutted the presumption of future
persecution by showing a fundamental change in circumstances.
Specifically, the IJ determined that "a twenty year span
of intermittent encounters with the Punjab police has evolved
to little more than extortion," not persecution on the
basis of political opinion. The IJ also noted that more than
30 years had passed since the Indian government's raid on
its Sikh citizens and more than 20 years had passed since
Charnjit had been politically active. Finally, the IJ
observed that Charnjit left and returned to India several
times after 2004 and that his family did not have any police
encounters in the four years before their departure to the
Singhs appealed to the BIA on the basis that the IJ erred in
ruling that the DHS rebutted the presumption of future
persecution. The Singhs emphasized that the DHS did not
present any evidence of its own other than cross-examining
Charnjit and Manjeet. The Singhs, however, did not appeal the
denial of withholding of removal or protection under the CAT.
The BIA dismissed the Singhs' appeal because it concluded
that the DHS had rebutted the presumption of future
persecution by establishing a change in
circumstances. The Singhs timely filed a petition for
"the authority to review only the BIA's decision,
not the IJ's decision, unless the IJ's decision has
some impact on the BIA's decision." Wang v.
Holder, 569 F.3d 531, 536 (5th Cir. 2009). We review
factual findings for substantial evidence and "may not
reverse the BIA's factual findings unless the evidence
compels it." Id. at 536-37; 8 U.S.C. §
1252(b)(4)(B) ("[T]he administrative findings of fact
are conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be
compelled to conclude to the contrary").
their petition for review, the Singhs contend that the BIA
should have granted asylum because the DHS failed to rebut
the presumption of future persecution. We disagree and hold
that substantial evidence supports ...