(SM Chavey, Liberty Headlines) After being arrested for attending a church not sanctioned by the government, a factory-worker in China fled to the United States. He’s now filed a certiorari petition, asked the Supreme Court to review a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which said his circumstances did not amount to persecution.
The Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defense organization dedicated to defense of religious freedom and civil liberties, filed an amicus curiae — “friend of the court” — in favor of the refugee, citing the Founding Fathers’ “sensitivity to the role of religious persecution in early American history.”
“Immigrants from a variety of faiths have risked life and limb to come to the United States to practice their religion openly and freely,” said PJI President Brad Dacus in a press release. “It should be pretty clear that persecution exists where they can’t do that. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will recognize that, too.”
Ting Xue often attended house church services that were not sanctioned by the government, and at one of these, the host home was raided. All worshipers were arrested and interrogated.
“Practicing one’s faith in secret to avoid punishment is not a cure for persecution, but a symptom of persecution,” Xue said in the petition according to Law360.
Xue and the others arrested were mocked, ridiculed, and occasionally beaten while being held in custody. To be released, Xue’s mother had to bring 15,000 yuan, which was more than half of Xue’s annual shoe-factory salary. Xue was forced to sign documents saying he would not attend more illegal services, at the risk of severe punishment. He was also required to attend “re-education” sessions which stressed the importance of patriotism above non-sanctioned religion.
Despite the raid, the home church continued to operate and Xue continued to attend. While Xue worked overtime at the factory a couple months later, the house was raided again and many attendees were sentenced to a year in prison. Xue fled and eventually reached the United States, crossing the border illegally from Mexico, according to Law360.
Xue’s case was brought before the Tenth Circuit, who ruled that Xue’s story was not persecution. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.
“Xue’s testimony was insufficient to carry his burden of establishing he was subjected to past persecution or there was a reasonable possibility he would, upon being returned to China, be subjected to persecution in the future,” the opinion said, according to Law360.
The Court of Appeals agreed, saying Xue failed to demonstrate a legitimate reason to expect future persecution.
The Immigration and Nationality Act, which governs immigration decisions, fails to define persecution. PJI stated the Supreme Court could use this case to resolve that conflict. The organization invoked the nation’s origins in its argument.
“The Founding Fathers understood that persecution exists where a government has created a climate of fear for people of certain faiths or belief systems,” Dacus said. “The United States’ history as a refuge for those fleeing religious persecution predates its existence as a nation, and PJI is dedicated to making sure it stays that way.”
Alliance Defending Freedom and Christian Legal Society have also filed amici curiae for the case, represented by M. Miller Baker and Steffen N. Johnson respectively.