Zhang v. Holder, No. 11-4251 (6th Cir. Dec. 18, 2012) (published)
In this case, the court reversed the BIA's denial of a motion to reopen. The asylum applicant, a Chinese national, sought to reopen based on her changed conditions relating to her religion, Catholicism, and coercive population control in Fujian.
The Court found fault with the BIA's decision for several reasons. First, although the BIA stated that if found the region and sect to be relevant to the issue of persecution, it did not explain why the distinction between leader and layman was pertinent. Thus, the decision lacked a rational explanation.
Second, the BIA should not have dismissed unsworn statements from individuals who were unaffiliated with any government institution. These can constitute evidence if they are otherwise reliable and credible. The BIA should have considered the credibility of the statements.
The Court affirmed the BIA's decision with respect to coercive population control, a challenge to the adverse credibility determination, and its refusal to exercise its sua sponte authority.