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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

In re Jesus Christ, Respondent

by Harry DeMell

Editorial Note: This article by Harry DeMell is written in the style of a BIA opinion, as a parody. Readers should not impute any mal-intent toward any religious belief thereby. No offense to anyone's religious sensibilities is intended.

In re Jesus Christ, Respondent

U.S. Department of Justice
Executive Office of Immigration Review
Board of Immigration Appeals

A man with Christian beliefs failed to establish by credible evidence that he has a well-founded fear of persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire nor has he established that he is eligible to remain in the United States as a religious worker either on an R visa or as a special immigrant religious worker.

Before: En banc

In a decision, the Immigration Judge found the respondent inadmissible and removable. In addition, the Immigration Judge denied the respondent's application for asylum, withholding of removal under sections 208(a) and 241(b)(3) of the Act and under the Convention Against Torture. The respondent filed a timely appeal. The appeal will be dismissed and the request for oral argument is denied. 8 CFR 3.1(e).

The appeal was filed with additional evidence and we will not consider that evidence.

I. Background

The respondent is a native and citizen of the prefecture of Judea, a province of the Roman Empire who is approximately 29 years of age.

He testified that he is a Rabbi and has proselytized a new religion and has been called "The King of The Jews". Because of this he has been persecuted by the Roman Empire and claims that if he returns to Judea or the Roman Empire he will be arrested and crucified. He claims that crucifixion violates the Convention Against Torture.

He claims that he has twelve apostles and that all but one is in hiding and that the one that is not hiding gave information to the authorities that led to an order for his arrest. None of the apostles have testified on his behalf and the respondent claims that they are afraid to make their presence known to the authorities. No affidavits were presented into evidence.

He has testified that his religious philosophy goes against the teachings in the Roman Empire and threaten the secular and religious establishments there. He testified that others who have threatened the establishment have been arrested and crucified and that there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest on the charge of sedition.

The government presented evidence that Mr. Christ had spoken out against the established order there but was wanted in connection with his interference with the money changers in Jerusalem. The government claims that his interference is not one of the enumerated grounds that would support an application for political asylum or withholding of removal or the convention against torture. They claim that this is purely a criminal matter based upon Mr. Christ's economic activities. The government points out that people through-out the Roman Empire can worship freely so long as they do not threaten the interests of the state.

The government further provided evidence that sedition is not one of the enumerated grounds in the statute.

II. CREDIBILITY

We consider the issue of credibility as a threshold matter, because the Immigration Judge made an adverse credibility finding. It is our general practice to defer to and adopt an Immigration Judge's determination regarding credibility.

We apply a three-pronged approach to assessing an Immigration Judges credibility findings. We base this finding on the discrepancies and omissions described by the Immigration Judge that are actually in the record; that such inconsistencies or omissions provide specific and cogent reasons to conclude that the alien failed to provide credible testimony, and that the alien has failed to provide convincing explanation for these discrepancies and omissions.

The Immigration Judge noted that the respondent came to court wearing a long white robe and had an extremely long beard. He testified that he was the "son of god" notwithstanding that documents provided by the Roman government show a man named "John" on his passport application. On cross-examination he testified that we are all god's children, thus further straining his credibility.

The Immigration Judge noted in the record that the respondent embellished his claims and made statements that he fed thousands of people from just one fish, that he caught. From exaggerations such as these the Immigration Judge concluded that the respondent's testimony could not be relied upon. The Immigration Judge noted that records presented by the government show that Mr. Christ's profession was listed as "carpenter" but that in court he claimed to be a rabbi and presented no documentation to bolster these claims.

There is even some evidence that he legal name is 'Horowitz' and that 'Christ' is a name that his followers have given to him.

We defer to the findings of the Immigration Judge and find that the respondent lacked credibility.

III. ASYLUM AND WITHHOLDING OF REMOVAL

We have reviewed the Immigration Judges decision, the testimonial, and documentary evidence of record and the legal submissions of the parties. Based upon the record before us and our analysis of the relevant law, we find the respondent statutorily ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal.

When adjudicating an alien's eligibility for relief, we are mindful of the fundamental humanitarian concerns of asylum law. Even when abuse is severe and longstanding, an applicant for asylum bears the burden of establishing that he meets the definition of Refugee as defined in section 101(a)(42)(A) of the act. To establish this burden he must establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, and member in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Mr. Christ has failed to meet this standard. We have concluded that any problems he may have with the government in Rome or the province of Judea have to do with his interference with money exchanging activities in Jerusalem.

It should again be noted that no evidence of rabbinical ordination has been submitted and under the Real ID Act such evidence would be required.

Past persecution can be the basis for granting political asylum even without a showing of a well-founded fear of persecution. Pursuant to the regulations, an applicant who has established past persecution is presumed to have also demonstrated a well-founded fear.

The Department of Homeland Security can rebut this by a showing of changed circumstances.

The DHS has submitted documentary evidence by Josephus, a historian as evidence that the Roman suppression in Judea was a response to a revolt there and that religion per se has not been targeted by that government. The evidence shows that any military action taken by the Roman government was in the nature of suppression of violence and not targeted against any religion. To mitigate these actions the DHS has also provided evidence of public works conducted by the Roman government to improve roads and water in Judea.

The respondent has not pointed to one incident of arrest or persecution. In fact, he testified that the night before he left Judea he celebrated the Passover cedar in full freedom. This is evidence from his own mouth that he was freely practicing his religion at the time of his departure to the United States.

An alien may also establish eligibility for asylum by demonstrating that a reasonable person would fear persecution in the future on account of a protected ground.

The respondent by his own testimony has demonstrated that he does not fear persecution by race or ethnicity, nationality or member in a particular social group. He has testified that he has no intention of conducting a revolt to replace the Roman or Judean governments but he has testified that he wishes to establish the kingdom of god. This court finds that establishing the kingdom of god is not the same as religion and since he has not preached the overthrow of Rome his claim is not the same as supplanting the established government: therefore Jesus Christ has not established a well-founded fear of persecution under one of the enumerated grounds.

By his own testimony he has affirmed that he interfered with money exchanging in Jerusalem and that we believe is the reason he has left Roman authority.

The respondent testified that if returned to Rome or Judea he might be nailed to a wood cross and hung to die and that this is torture and cruel and unusual punishment.

The government has provided evidence in the Country Reports that this form of punishment is reserved for the worst violent criminals and escaped slaves and that it would not apply to the respondent.

We hold that crucifixion is not a punishment that triggers rights under the Convention Against Torture.

IV. RELIGIOUS WORKER

During the pendency of these proceedings Mr. Christ filed an I-360 application to grant him special immigrant status as a religious worker. That application was denied and he wishes us to consider that denial as part of this appeal.

In order to comply with the statute, Mr. Christ would have to show several factors.

He would have to show that for the two years preceding the application he was a member of a religious organization having a bona fide non-profit organization in the United States. Since he is not relying upon his status as a rabbi and is making this application based upon a new religion he cannot show that the bona fide non-profit organization exists.

The statute requires him to show that he seeks to carry on the vocation of minister. Since all he claims to want is to be a prophet and possibly a rabbi, he does not fit within the exact words of the statute.

He also cannot show employment in this religious capacity, immediately preceding this application. His prior employment has been categorized as carpentry and fishing and nowhere is it documented as ministry.

He has tried to introduce biographic writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John but the Immigration Judge has dismissed them as hearsay and we will not disturb that ruling.

We therefore rule that Jesus Christ does not qualify as a religious worker.

V. ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE

The respondent has submitted evidence with this appeal that at least two persons arrested the morning that he escaped and on the same warrant were crucified. Since this evidence was not presented below we will not consider it here. Since it could have been presented before, in the name of administrative convenience, we will not remand it to the Immigration Judge.

VI. VOLUNTARY DEPARTURE

The respondent has requested voluntary departure. The Immigration Judge denied this request in that the respondent has no country to return to and is wanted on criminal charges in Rome.

VII. CONCLUSION

We conclude that the respondent is statutorily ineligible for asylum or for withholding of removal or under the Convention against Torture.

      ORDER: The respondent is removable to Rome on the charges in the notice to appear.

      ORDER: The respondent's applications for political asylum, withholding of removal and under the Convention against Torture are denied.


About The Author

Harry DeMell is an Attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Visa, Immigration and Nationality Law since 1977.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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