A federal appeals court in New York rejected a Chinese woman’s request for asylum because of her more than two-decade involvement in enforcing the country’s one-child policy.
Suzhen Meng, 61, worked for 22 years as the regional public security officer in Wuhan, Hubei, overseeing about 1,100 households. Women in the region are only allowed one child each, and she testified to reporting women with unauthorized pregnancies to China’s family planning office. Meng also admitted she was aware that the women she reported would be punished “typically by being forced to undergo an abortion or sterilization,” according to court documents. Meng said she saw the women being “dragged away forcibly by the police.” At times, she would warn the pregnant women to hide or flee.
Meng came to the United States in February 2008 seeking asylum for political persecution after she refused to collect a security fee from residents and spoke out against a corrupt police chief. Because of her actions, Meng said police arrested her, confiscated her passport, and held her in custody for two weeks. In prison, she claims a guard slapped her in the face several times and instructed fellow prisoners to beat her. Officials returned her passport after 10 months and she left the country for America, where her sister worked as a researcher at John Hopkins University.
A 2010 immigration judge denied her asylum, ruling that her “active assistance in the persecution of women pregnant in violation of China’s family planning policy” kept her from receiving asylum and she had to leave the country. She also was denied relief based on the Convention Against Torture (CAT), because she could not prove that she would face torture if she returned to China.
In her appeal, Meng argued her role in registering and reporting unauthorized pregnancies should not be considered “active assistance” as she did not participate in the forced abortions herself. Her lawyer, Gary Yerman, claimed she was merely a “statistician, a census taker.” He also said Chinese officials warned Meng not to apply for asylum in the United States or else there would be consequences.
But a three-judge panel agreed with the earlier ruling, with Circuit Judge Reena Raggi writing that her work was “integral to the effectuation of persecution.”
“Meng’s reporting of policy-violating women was no ‘minor’ action, but the critical step that set in motion the entire persecutory scheme of enforcement,” Raggi wrote.
Yerman said an appeal was possible.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: November 10, 2014