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Singh v. Barr

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 27, 2019

Daya Singh, Petitioner,
v.
William P. Barr, Attorney General, Respondent.

          Submitted August 6, 2019 [*] San Francisco, California

          On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency No. A088-469-800

          Robert B. Jobe and Morgan Russell, Law Office of Robert B. Jobe, San Francisco, California, for Petitioner.

          Mary Jane Candaux, Assistant Director; Kurt B. Larson, Senior Litigation Counsel; Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; for Respondent.

          Before: Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, Eugene E. Siler, [**] and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY [***]

         Immigration

         The panel denied a petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture protection to Daya Singh, a citizen of India who asserted claims for relief based on his imputed political opinion and whistleblowing activities exposing police corruption.

         Singh challenged the Board's precedential opinion in Matter of N-M-, 25 I. & N. Dec. 526 (BIA 2011), setting forth a three-factor standard for determining whether retaliation for opposition to official corruption or whistleblowing constitutes persecution on account of a political opinion. Under that test, the immigration judge considers: (1) "whether and to what extent the alien engaged in activities that could be perceived as expressions of anticorruption beliefs," (2) "any direct or circumstantial evidence that the alleged persecutor was motivated by the alien's perceived or actual anticorruption beliefs," and (3) "evidence regarding the pervasiveness of government corruption, as well as whether there are direct ties between the corrupt elements and higher level officials." The panel explained that because Matter of N-M's three factors correspond to this circuit's whistleblowing cases, it could not say that the Board's interpretation was unreasonable.

         The panel held that the record did not compel the conclusion that police officers persecuted Singh on account of his imputed political opinion. The panel concluded that Singh's asylum claim therefore fails. The panel agreed with Singh that contrary to Barajas-Romero v. Lynch, 846 F.3d 351 (9th Cir. 2017), the Board erroneously applied the "one central reason" nexus standard, rather than the "a reason" standard, to Singh's withholding of removal claim. However, the panel concluded that it need not remand the case, because the Board adopted the immigration judge's finding of no nexus between the harm to Singh and the alleged protected ground, and thus neither the result nor the Board's basic reasoning would change. The panel also held that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination that Singh failed to establish that it was more likely than not that he would be tortured if he returned to India.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         In this asylum case, we must decide whether an alien has established that he was persecuted because of his political opinion during confrontations with police in Punjab, India.

         I

A ...

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