Rupinder Singh v. Merrick Garland

FOR PUBLICATION UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT RUPINDER SINGH, No. 19-73107 Petitioner, Agency No. v. A075-302-200 MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General, OPINION Respondent. On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Argued and Submitted July 6, 2022 Portland, Oregon Filed August 30, 2022 Before: Paul J. Watford, Ryan D. Nelson, and Kenneth K. Lee, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Lee 2 SINGH V. GARLAND SUMMARY * Immigration Granting Rupinder Singh’s petition for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, and remanding, the panel held that the BIA erred in holding that an earlier adverse credibility finding barred Singh’s motion to reopen, and in concluding that Singh failed to show that the conditions for Sikhs in India had changed qualitatively since his last hearing. Singh initially sought asylum claiming that he was persecuted in India on account of being a Sikh who supports the creation of Khalistan and the Akali Dal (Mann) Party. An immigration judge denied Singh’s claims after concluding that Singh’s testimony was not credible because of inconsistencies and a lack of detail. The IJ also highlighted a State Department report showing that the situation for Sikhs had greatly normalized and, noting that Singh’s family had not responded to his requests for documents, the IJ found further that Singh had failed to even establish his identity. Singh sought to reopen based on changed country conditions, and the BIA concluded that Singh had not establish materially changed conditions. In doing so, the BIA noted that Singh’s prior adverse credibility finding was relevant in considering the evidence of changed country conditions. * This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader. SINGH V. GARLAND 3 The panel held that the BIA erred in concluding that Singh’s motion was foreclosed by the prior adverse credibility determination. The panel explained that although the BIA may rely on a previous adverse credibility determination to deny a motion to reopen if that earlier finding still factually undermines the petitioner’s new argument, here, Singh’s motion included newly submitted evidence based on information independent of the prior adverse credibility finding. Among other documents, the motion to reopen included Singh’s birth certificate, a letter from a Mann leader attesting to his membership in the party, and a letter from his mother stating that the police were looking for Singh. The panel explained that this evidence was independent of the facts that formed the prior credibility finding, and in fact filled some gaps on which the adverse credibility finding was predicated. The panel noted that the IJ had expressly relied on the lack of such corroborating evidence to find Singh not credible. Thus, the prior adverse credibility finding logically could not have implicated the newly submitted evidence. The panel concluded that the BIA erred in rejecting Singh’s new evidence for two other reasons. First, the panel held that the record did not …

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