“Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears” is a blog series documenting the harmful impact of President Trump’s judges on Americans’ rights and liberties. Cases in the series can be found by issue and by judge at this link.
In April 2020, Trump Ninth Circuit judge Eric Miller cast the deciding vote in Singh v. Barr, to deny an asylum claim without requiring the government to meet its burden of proof to provide individualized analysis that the asylum applicant did not have a well-founded fear of future persecution if returned to his home country.
Angrej Singh, a citizen of India, sought asylum in the United States. He was a member of the Akali Dal Mann political party, and was persecuted by Indian police because of it. He was also persecuted by police because he was believed to be linked to a known Sikh militant terrorist.
At the hearing before the immigration judge (IJ), Singh provided credible evidence of his persecution while he was in India. Despite the strong evidence he provided, the IJ denied his asylum application. Singh was accused of helping the Sikh terrorist more than 10 years ago, and the IJ cited country condition reports that indicated Indian police no longer had interest in the Sikh militant or anyone associated with the militant.
Singh appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and lost. He then appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
In a 2-1 decision, with Judge Miller casting the deciding vote, the majority concluded that Singh did not show that he had a well-founded fear of future persecution based on the country condition reports.
Judge Harry Pregerson disagreed. He explained that the Ninth Circuit has long held that “the determination of whether or not a particular applicant’s fear is rebutted by general country conditions information requires an individualized analysis that focuses on the specific harm suffered and the relationship to it of the particular information contained in the relevant country reports.” The government has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Singh being linked to a militant terrorist no longer served as a basis for a well-founded fear of future persecution, he went on, and the government did not even attempt to prove any such thing.