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Monday, December 11, 2006

U.S. Turns Down Mom's Asylum Plea Over China's 'One-Child' Policy

CLEVELAND (TDB) -- A Chinese woman who slipped into the U.S. illegally and gave birth to two children now faces deportation after her request for political asylum was rejected by the Bush Administration. The woman, Xue Ying Lin, has been living in Ohio and says she faces persecution by the People's Republic of China because she violated that nation's policy of limiting families to one child. She said the policy violates the human rights of women because it is enforced by stiff fines, jail sentences, sterilizations, and abortions.

The Bush Administration was elected on a pro-life, pro-family, pro-child platform. But authorities refused Xue Ying Lin's pleas for sanctuary and opposed her asylum request, which was rejected last month in Cincinnati by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Case No. 05-4505). During the immigration proceedings, government lawyers contended that China has relaxed enforcement of its 'one-child' laws. They implied Xue Ying Lin may not face any persecution at all in Fujian Province, her home region, and might be welcomed back with a cash payment for returnees.

Lin entered the U.S. illegally with her boyfriend in 1991 and filed her asylum application two years later. She married and has a daughter born on Dec. 19, 1995 and a son born on Jan. 13, 2000. Cleveland immigration attorneys Margaret Wong and Scott E. Bratton represent Lin, who said her fear of forced sterilization is based on the fact Chinese officials sterilized her mother after she gave birth to three children. Lin left her homeland with the help of a smuggler.

The Chinese government limits births as a a population-control measure, and the U.S. State Department's most recent report about human rights in China was sharply critical of the strategy. It said China uses ''a coercive birth limitation policy, in some cases resulting in forced abortion and sterilization."

China has more than 1 billion residents and is the most populous nation on the planet. Women under age 20 cannot marry legally, and females of child-bearing age sometimes must undergo mandatory pregnancy inspections. ''The country's birth planning policies retained harshly coercive elements in law and practice. The laws restrict the rights of families to chose the number of children they have. The penalties for violating the law are strict, leaving some women little choice but to abort pregnancies," the State Department reported. "In addition, implementation of the policy by local officials resulted in some serious violations of human rights. Reports of forced sterlizations contnued to be documented in rural areas."

Despite the State Department's appraisal, a three-judge appeals court panel said, ''In this case, the evidence in the record regarding China's famiy planning policy is vague and full of conflicting, sometimes poorly substantiated reports." It also said the large monetary fines Chinese women face for defying their government and having babies -- which were described by the State Department as a "social compensation fee" -- should not be feared. The fine can reach 10 times a person's annual salary.

''A rational adjudicator could find that it is objectively unreasonable to fear a fine large enough to rise to a level of persecution,'' the court said. It added, in a parentithical comment, ''that a fine of over a year's salary for having a child outside of wedlock did not constitute persecution." (TDB Note: All the judges on the panel were men.)

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