What's the measure of a man's credibility? Prior to the implementation of the REAL ID Act in 2005, a person's credibility in an INS hearing was based only on statements that went to the heart of the matter. This meant when the applicant or witness complimented your tie, or fudged their age or weight, it only mattered if it was innately related to the applicant's claim.
The REAL ID Act follows the hip hop credo of "real recognizes real." Whether a person is dishonest about tangential matters or the crux of the claim, a liar is a liar, at least according to the new standard . The Fourth Circuit labeled this as "common sense" when it adopted it in this week's decision in Singh v. Holder. They also noted that the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits have all adopted the new standard as well.
Mr. Singh claimed that he fled India because he was persecuted by the then-in-power Congress Party because his father supported the Akali Dal Party. When Congress Party-affiliated police came to arrest his father, and Singh questioned them about a warrant, they arrested him instead and allegedly abused him while he was in custody.
What the IJ found questionable was that Singh's father negotiated his son's release two days later by paying the local police. If the police were truly persecuting his father, and members of the Akali Dal Party, why would they negotiate with a wanted man for the release of his son?
In addition to that inconsistency, Singh was completely unable to articulate his personal political beliefs that would lead to persecution. He stated that he agreed with no political party and that the parties were trying to take his father's land.
When the IJ or Board question an applicant's credibility, they can request corroborating evidence to support the applicant's claims. Unfortunately, Singh's evidence was also suspicious. The supporting affidavits, which were mostly from family members, included changed dates. Noticeably absent from the evidence was any supporting affidavit or testimony from his sister who already lived in the U.S.
They also cited his inability to provide a reason why he couldn't live safely elsewhere in India, as he had lived in Delhi for months before sneaking into the U.S. by way of a student visa to study in Mexico, as a reason for denying his application for withholding removal.
Between his inability to articulate a reason why he might be in danger or what his persecuted political beliefs were, and his inability to provide reliable corroborating evidence, the IJ and the Board both found Singh's claims lacking in credibility and denied his application. The Fourth Circuit found no abuse of discretion by either fact finder and therefore upheld the ruling.
- Gurpreet Bhabra Singh v. Eric H. Holder, Jr. (Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Asylum Appeals Aren't Easy to Win in Fourth Circuit (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit Blog)
- Lizama v. Holder (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit Blog)