Chinese asylum applicant gets a second chance after winning an appeal

Chang Qiang Zhu’s asylum was denied because he failed his “bible quiz” on the story of Paul the Apostle

Chang Qiang Zhu’s asylum was denied because he failed his “bible quiz” on the story of Paul the Apostle

A Chinese immigrant, seeking asylum in the U.S. from his claims of religious persecution, will have a second chance at pleading his case to an immigration judge. According to U.S. Department of Justice reports, there were 44,170[i] foreign nationals who applied for asylum in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available. A granting of asylum would allow them to indefinitely remain, lawfully, on U.S. soil. After being present for one year, they may apply to become a legal permanent resident. The same report indicates that 10,985 (by far the largest percentage) of asylum seekers were from China. Another report by the Human Rights Watch organization explains, “Against a backdrop of rapid socio-economic change and modernization, China continues to be an authoritarian one-party state that imposes sharp curbs on freedom of expression, association, and religion; openly rejects judicial independence and press freedom; and arbitrarily restricts and suppresses human rights defenders and organizations, often through extra-judicial measures.[ii]

Chang Qiang Zhu’s asylum was denied because he failed his “bible quiz” on the story of Paul the Apostle[iii].

The asylum process may include a hearing in an immigration court. In Zhu’s case, the immigration judge quizzed him about the story of Paul the Apostle. Also known as Saint Paul, he is widely considered among the most important Christian apostles who is said to have taught the gospel of Christ in the first century. The immigration judge, Barbara Nelson, is reported to have not believed Zhu’s response to her request to tell her the story of Paul the Apostle, and that he was evasive. Was Zhu honest in his application for asylum and was he in fact a follower of Christian Faith?

Pervasive Christian Faith persecution by the Chinese, along with Zhu’s claims that he was beaten and imprisoned for attending a church not allowed by the Chinese government could, in most cases, be sufficient grounds to apply for asylum protection in the U.S.   To be eligible for asylum, the applicant must establish their reasonable fear of persecution based upon at least one of the following grounds:

–  Race/Ethnicity

–  Religion

–  Nationality

–  Political opinion

–  Membership in a Particular Social Group

Back to the story of Mr. Zhu and his asylum application – his attorney got him a second chance.

The immigration attorney representing Zhu filed an appeal before the Board of Immigration Appeals arguing that the judge was wrong for finding that Mr. Zhu was not credible because he may have been unclear about one particular Biblical story. The attorney told a reporter from the NY Daily News, ““You don’t have to know every fact to be a devout Christian…You can be very devout and not know everything. And the Bible doesn’t mandate that you have to know everything.” [iv]” The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, vacated the denial of asylum and Zhu’s application will be reviewed by a new judge. The initial immigration judge in Zhu’s 2009 hearing not only misapplied the law, but she also demonstrated a lack of competence applying her version of the law with a “Bible quiz.”  Fortunately, Zhu had a competent immigration attorney advocating for his rights.

Immigration attorney, KiKi M. Mosley frequently represents asylum applicants at Asylum offices and immigration courts and can help asylum applicants at any part of the immigration process.  Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.

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Government shutdown: Many asylum courts are closed but USCIS is still processing applications and ICE is still making arrests.

Petitions for political asylum and non-emergency deportation cases are among the matters that could be delayed for months if the shutdown lasts more than a few days, according to immigration lawyers and advocates.

Petitions for political asylum and non-emergency deportation cases are among the matters that could be delayed for months if the shutdown lasts more than a few days, according to immigration lawyers and advocates.

Despite the temporary shutdown of the U.S. Government’s non-essential services, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is processing applications and ICE officers are still making immigration arrests. Having said that, a recent ABC News article contains a list of ways the shutdown will affect immigration agencies, including immigration paperwork, enforcement, guarding the border, processing visas and passports and immigration courts. What few people might know is that USCIS is “almost entirely self-funded.” The article further explains that, “The fees they charge cover 95 percent of their budget, according to spokesperson Christopher Bentley.[i]

While immigration courts remain partly open, political asylum cases delayed which adds insult to injury to people already in a bad place.

“The shutdown is monumental for my clients most in need. Those who are in removal proceedings are facing years of further delay because only detained dockets are active and the asylum offices are greatly affected. These are the most vulnerable people in the immigration system.” Attorney KiKi M. Mosley.

Backups in asylum courts already make it difficult for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. seeking asylum from persecution in their home country. Currently 16 immigration courts are closed and 42 are still open, and 23 of them handle only detained immigrants. Reported in a recent Washington Post article, “The asylum process, advocates in the Washington area and elsewhere said, is especially backed up, with about 350,000 cases pending before immigration judges.[ii]” The article continues to report that delays in securing trial dates for asylum hearings could be months or years.

A Los Angeles attorney who works with the Public Counsel agency has a client who is a prime example of those victimized by the system: Mr. Didier Vakumba, 43, “a medical doctor who fled his native Congo five years ago after he said police jailed and brutalized him for revealing human rights atrocities to foreign monitors.”

Dr. Vakumba’s family and sick child with a brain tumor are now in limbo because the final judge’s signature is unavailable because the court was suspended due to the shutdown.

Doctor Vakumba and his family have spent several years waiting for his asylum petition to “work its way through the system.” While he’s been in California, his wife and children have not been with him and are in another country in Africa where they sought refuge. Vakumba’s petitions, under dubious circumstances, were approved by the immigration court to bring his family to the U.S. so his child with a brain tumor could receive emergency medical care. The shutdown brought everything to a halt and, because he is missing one more judge’s signature, from a court that has been suspended, Vakumba’s progress has also been suspended. “I am happy because I finally won my case, but I am frustrated, too,” Vakumba said Tuesday afternoon, speaking a mixture of French and Spanish. “I have been waiting a very long time to see my family.”

While many people say they are not affected by the current shutdown, some families like Dr. Vakumba’s are decimated over the tragedies in which they find themselves, waiting for stubborn politicians to agree on matters to get the country back on track and restore the hopes and dreams of asylum seekers. If you would like more information about the shutdown and how it may affect your asylum case or know someone seeking refuge, please be in touch with the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] ABC News: Here’s How the Shutdown Affects Immigration Services. By Ted Hesson, Oct. 1, 2013.

[ii] The Washington Post: Immigration courts remain partly open but political asylum cases delayed. By Pam Constable, Oct. 1, 2013.

Asylum seekers: Snowden turned down but LGBT Russian accepted

Asylum may not be a frequent topic of discussion at American dinner tables, but Edward Snowden’s appeal for Asylum in 20 other countries certainly stirred discussion about citizens of one nation state who seek protection from persecution in their home country. In the Snowden matter, the Wikileaks member received several responses from countries indicating that Snowden, “must first be on their soil to apply for asylum,” reported the Washington times, also stating that, “This does not rule out the possibility of asylum, nor does it rule out ultimately rejecting his claim and possibly extraditing him to the United States, meaning that Snowden may not see these countries as viable options.[i]

Nobody seemed to want Mr. Snowden but the U.S. gave asylum to Russian LGBT applicants.

Last year, Kargaltsev became one of a handful of gay Russians granted political asylum in the United States. - See more at: http://immigrationequality.org/clippings/the-moscow-times-why-gay-muscovite-sought-and-won-u-s-asylum/#sthash.ENHLgWJJ.dpuf

Last year, Kargaltsev became one of a handful of gay Russians granted political asylum in the United States. – See more at: http://immigrationequality.org/clippings/the-moscow-times-why-gay-muscovite-sought-and-won-u-s-asylum/#sthash.ENHLgWJJ.dpuf

The article reports that Venezuela and Bolivia were open but ultimately declined to offer their open arms. Was global political pressure enough to affect these countries’ decisions in this high profile case? Sometimes asylum can be a game of “hot potato” and there can be challenging circumstances involved such as the individual seeking asylum being exiled from their home nation and literally not having anywhere to go.

One example of those fleeing from homeland persecution are the members of Russia’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) communities. Nikola Krastev, writer for The Moscow Times reported, regarding a Russian Asylum seeker who won U.S. Asylum protection, quoted his interviewee, “”I’m not even talking about being openly gay,” Kargaltsev said. “But what is a person supposed to do when he cannot change his voice and his mannerisms? When [gayness] is detectable visually, there’s little pleasure in it.”[ii]” Krastev continued in his article to state that, “Figures for the number of Russians seeking asylum abroad for their sexual orientation are hard to come by, and it is unclear whether there has been an increase amid police crackdowns on gay rallies in Moscow over the past five years or the passage of an anti-gay law in St. Petersburg in March.”

Asylum is sought by people coming to the United State to be free from persecution, those who fear for their life.

So much of the immigration reform debate has focused on nations nearly bordering U.S. soil, namely Mexico and Cuba. Seeking a better economy and jobs is one thing, but fleeing a home country persecuting its citizens is different, and to many people outside the immigration and the communities it entangles, namely immigration lawyers, do not hear the stories of hard working and good people who sometimes have no choice other than to flee. Reasons people leave for protection in the U.S. can include: political affiliation; race; religion; nationality; gender; sexual orientation and group affiliations to name a few.

Like the countries where Snowden sought asylum, the United States has eligibility rules. If asylum is granted an application’s spouse and children, who are included in the initial application, are also able to remain in the United States as asylees or enter the United States if abroad. Also, under some circumstances an asylum seeker may be allowed to apply to work and earn income in the U.S. The legal process for asylum protection is complex and only a state-licensed immigration attorney should help asylum seekers with the application processes.

You should always confirm that you are working with a licensed attorney in your home state as there are many people who prey upon the fragile position in which asylum seekers find themselves as they try to mitigate a complex and intimidating immigration system.

The Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley helps asylum seekers with the asylum application process from beginning to end. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] Washington Post. Map: Tracking how countries are answering Snowden’s asylum requests. By Max Fisher, July 2, 2013.

[ii] The Moscow Times. Why a Gay Muscovite Sought, and Won, U.S. Asylum. By Nikola Krastev, August 15, 2012.