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Rare CA5 Stay Grant: Singh v. Garland

July 13, 2021 (2 min read)

Singh v. Garland

"Daljinder Singh applied for asylum and protection under the Convention Against Torture, claiming that he feared persecution in India based on his membership in the Akali Dal Amritsar (“Mann Party”), a Sikh-dominated political party. The presiding immigration judge (“IJ”) denied his application, finding Singh not credible. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) dismissed Singh’s appeal. Singh filed a petition for review and moved for a stay of removal. We granted Singh an emergency stay of removal pending further order. We now grant Singh a stay pending review of his petition. ... Singh raises two principal arguments in his petition for review. First, he contends that the IJ’s near total denial rate for asylum applications reflected a bias and violated Singh’s due process rights. Second, he challenges the BIA’s conclusion that the IJ adhered to the procedural safeguards the BIA adopted in Matter of R-K-K-, applicable when an IJ relies on inter-proceeding similarities for an adverse credibility determination. We conclude that Singh has made the requisite showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of both claims. ... The IJ here [Agnelis Reese] denied relief to asylum seekers in 203 of the 204 cases she presided over from 2014 to 2019, a denial rate of 99.5%. ... We find it likely that a “reasonable man, were he to know all the circumstances, would harbor doubts about the judge’s impartiality.” ... Given the accounts of multiple witnesses to the attacks on Singh, medical records, images of the attacks on his father, and witness testimony regarding the BJP’s continued pursuit of Singh, Singh has made the requisite showing that the totality of the evidence does not support the IJ’s credibility determination. The appearance of bias painted by the denial of 203 of 204 asylum applications and the IJ’s adverse-credibility determination, informed by her noncompliance with the procedural safeguards of Matter of R-K-K-, are here interlaced. We do not suggest that a high percentage of denials is sufficient to avoid an IJ’s otherwise valid credibility determinations. Indeed, patterns in applicants’ presentations are likely and may necessarily result in a higher denial rate if the shared basis for relief is inadequate. But here, the incredibly high denial rate, when coupled with the IJ’s noncompliance with Matter of R-K-K-, presents a substantial likelihood that Singh will be entitled to relief upon full consideration by a merits panel. ... Accordingly, we GRANT Singh’s motion for a stay pending review of his petition."

[Hats way off to Peter Rogers!]