Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California:
November 5, 2013.
On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Agency No. A095-024-123.
Anders L. Johnson (argued), Law Offices of Vaughan de Kirby, San Francisco, California, for Petitioner.
Tony West, Assistant Attorney General; Michelle Gorden Latour, Assistant Director; Tracie N. Jones and Joseph A. O'Connell (argued), Attorneys, United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington D.C., for Respondent.
Before: Jerome Farris, Ferdinand F. Fernandez, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Ikuta.
IKUTA, Circuit Judge:
Ling Huang, a native and citizen of China, petitions for review of the denial of her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Because the record in this case does not compel the conclusion that Huang's testimony was credible and persuasive, we affirm the immigration judge's determination that Huang failed to carry her burden of proving her eligibility for relief.
Huang entered the United States on May 11, 2006 on a student visa, and applied for asylum and withholding of removal on April 12, 2007. Huang conceded her inadmissibility, and appeared before an immigration judge (IJ) for a merits hearing on January 10, 2008.
Huang testified as follows at the merits hearing. While attending an underground Christian " house church" in China, she was arrested and taken to the police station. While in police custody, a female officer pulled her hair, pushed her to the ground, and kicked her. Huang was then placed in a cell and forced to perform manual labor, such as cleaning toilets and moving bricks. After three days, Huang's family bailed her out of jail for 8,500 RMB and she returned home. She provided a bail receipt from China for the crime of " violating the management of public order with a mob," but it did not reference her participation in a house church or otherwise corroborate Huang's testimony. As a condition of her release, Huang signed a document promising that she would not continue to participate in underground Christian activities. She ceased attending underground churches after her arrest, but continued to practice Christianity through private prayer.
Following this incident, Huang secured a student visa to the United States with the help of a private agency specializing in foreign study trips. Upon her arrival in the United States, Huang studied at Merced College for six months, but ended her studies after running out of money to pay tuition.
Huang claimed that she continued to practice Christianity while in the United States. She stated she was baptized on April 8, 2007, and provided photographs which she claimed showed her baptismal ceremony, which was performed by another member of the church. According to her testimony, Huang then began to attend a different church in Modesto, California in August 2007, but stopped going after a few months in order to help her uncle on the weekends. Huang did not produce a baptismal certificate or any other evidence corroborating her church attendance in either the United States or in China. Huang testified that she observed Easter and Christmas, and she recited the Lord's Prayer and other Christian prayers.
In a decision issued on January 10, 2008, the IJ found that Huang's testimony was not credible. She noted two reasons for this conclusion. First, the IJ found that Huang's demeanor undermined her credibility, noting that Huang paused frequently while testifying " as if to assess the impact of the answer she provided." Further, the IJ found that Huang's testimony was " extremely superficial," and " could easily have been memorized." ...