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Law School Case Brief

Li Wu Lin v. INS - 238 F.3d 239 (3d Cir. 2001)


For the government's action to constitute persecution, it must amount to more than generally harsh conditions shared by many other persons, but does include threats to life, confinement, torture, and economic restrictions so severe that they constitute a real threat to life or freedom. The requirement that an alien's fear be "well-founded" includes both a subjective and objective component. The objective standard requires the alien's subjective fear of persecution to be supported by objective evidence that persecution is a reasonable possibility. This standard does not require a showing that persecution is more likely than not. Fear can be well-founded even when there is less than 50 percent chance of the occurrence taking place. 


Petitioner Li Wu Lin, once a student in the People's Republic of China, participated prominently in four pro-democracy protests in the weeks and days before the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Fearing persecution in the wake of the crackdown by the Chinese government, Lin fled his country and eventually arrived in the United States where he sought both political asylum under § 208(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C.S. § 1158(a), and withholding of deportation under § 243(h) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. S.§ 1253(h). The immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") denied him relief under both provisions, clearing the way for his deportation. Lin filed a petition for review.


Did Li Wu Lin qualify for both political asylum and withholding of deportation?




The court reversed the BIA's decision and remanded the case to the BIA for further proceedings. The court determined that Li Wu Lin was entitled to both forms of relief. The court observed that the BIA found Li Wu Lin to be credible, but concluded that he did not face persecution because the Chinese police sought him for trespass. However, the court found that the BIA's conclusion was not supported by the evidence, and that it was difficult to believe that in the wake of political repression on the scale of Tiananmen Square that the Chinese government was acting as a disinterested enforcer of neutral laws when it demanded that Li Wu Lin appear for interrogation. A one-page letter from the United States State Department based on an article by two American college professors was insufficient to undermine Li Wu Lin's credibility.

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