The Ninth Circuit court in Pasadena, California has decided to hear the appeal of an Indian woman seeking asylum in the United States.
The Sikh woman was put on removal by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
According to the court documents, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw in his opinion stated: “Chanpreet Kaur, a native of the state of Punjab in India, seeks asylum for fear of persecution in her country of origin on account of her work for the Mann Party and advocacy for the independent Sikh state of Khalistan. We grant Kaur’s petition for review and remand for further proceedings.”
The Board of Immigration Appeals earlier concluded saying the case that the attempted gang rape and death threats against Kaur and the physical assault of her parents was not a sufficient “amount of mistreatment” so as to constitute past persecution. Rather, the BIA reasoned that the attempted gang rape “did not rise to the level of persecution” because Kaur lacked evidence of “treatment for psychological harm,” or other “ongoing issues” stemming from this assault.
Judge Wardlaw ruled that the the BIA erred, and that Kaur’s testimony about an attempted gang rape was sufficient to show persecution. Requiring evidence of additional harms both minimizes the gravity of the sexual assault and demeans the victim, the court ruled.
According to the court document states, Kaur in 2015 joined the Shiromani Akali Dal Simranjeet Singh Mann Party, which advocates for the creation of Khalistan, a sovereign state for the Sikh people.
Kaur has alleged she was first harassed in May 2016 by agents of the Congress party on account of her Mann Party membership. Four Congress party members on motorbikes accosted her in the street, cursed her, and told her that she would not “be able to show [her] face to the world” if she continued working for the Mann Party, she alleged.
She alleged that five months later, in October 2016, while her parents were away and she was working in her parents’ shop, a group of male members of the Congress party entered and dragged her into the street. They slapped her, kicked her, yelled obscenities at her, and told her that they were doing this to her because she was a Mann Party member, she testified.
The men started ripping off Kaur’s clothing because, Kaur said, “they wanted to rape me.” Kaur said she cried out for help and some of her neighbors came to her rescue.
Soon after, Kaur left Punjab for Cyprus. While she was there, in February 2017, she said she received several threatening calls.
Kaur made her way to Mexico, ultimately crossing into the United States near the San Ysidro port of entry in September 2017. She was almost immediately detained and charged as removable under which renders an immigrant inadmissible for failing to possess a valid entry document at the time of applying for entry into the United States.
Kaur testified in the court that in February 2018 her father was severely beaten up by Congress party agents. The assailants repeatedly asked Kaur’s father if he knew where Kaur was located, she alleged.
The BIA denied Kaur’s asylum request, reasoning that she had failed to establish past persecution because she did not supplement her credible testimony of attempted rape with additional evidence of treatment for psychological harm or of ongoing issues.
The BIA also concluded that Kaur had not shown that the Indian government was unable or unwilling to control the individuals who had harassed, threatened, and attempted to rape her.
Attorney Doug Jalaie, who represented Kaur in court, told indica News: “The Board of Immigration did not follow the law.”
“I cannot disclose much but I can tell you she has a very strong case and judge and board members, they decided not to follow the law and that was wrong,” he added.
Jalaie alleged that taxpayers’ money was being wasted on dragging such cases on.
“Her case could have been disposed of at a much earlier stage,” he said.
“I think it also could be because of the prior administration,” he said, referring to the Trump administration which was seen as anti-immigrant.
“I hope the current administration would not deny a case like this,” he added.