Argued: April 28, 2015.
Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A201 015 295.
For Hongting Liu, Petitioner: Xiaoyu Li, Attorney, Law Offices of Pengtian MA, Chicago, IL; Pengtian Ma, Attorney, Chicago, IL.
For LORETTA E. LYNCH, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent: Elizabeth Robyn Chapman, Attorney, OIL, Attorney, Department of Justice, Civil Division, Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC.
Before FLAUM, KANNE, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.
Flaum, Circuit Judge.
Hongting Liu, a Chinese citizen in her mid-twenties, petitions for review of the
denial of her application for asylum and withholding of removal based on religious persecution. Because substantial evidence does not support the Immigration Judge's (IJ) adverse credibility finding, which was upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals, we grant the petition and remand for further proceedings.
Liu came to the United States on a student visa in May 2011. She did not attend the school designated on her visa and instead took free English classes in Chicago. Ten months after her arrival, she filed for asylum based on the religious persecution she faced in China. An asylum officer denied her application, and she was charged as removable because she did not attend the school listed on her visa.
At her removal hearing, Liu testified about the basis for her application, starting with her conversion to Christianity while in college in northeastern China. She testified that her conversion helped lift her out of a depression following her uncle's death. For the remainder of her studies, she attended meetings every Sunday at an " underground family church" near her campus, and after graduating and returning home she attended a new house church. Her parents did not know that she converted to Christianity or attended house-church meetings weekly.
Liu went on to describe the events underlying her claim of persecution, beginning with her arrest at her hometown house church. In January 2011 the police raided the church and asked the congregants why they were gathered. After one congregant replied that they were discussing Christianity, the police declared the meeting an illegal gathering and arrested all seven people in attendance. Liu ...