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Immigration — No Asylum on Religious Persecution Claim

Mulyani v. Holder (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-193-14, 22 pp.) (Thacker, J.) No. 13-1653, Nov. 14, 2014; On Petition for Review; 4th Cir.

Holding: An Indonesian woman’s reports of four different instances when she or her family were attacked or harassed for being practicing Christians in a majority-Muslim country were not sufficient to qualify her for relief as a refugee seeking asylum or under the Convention Against Torture; the 4th Circuit affirms the agency decision upholding removal.

Petitioner Yani Mulyani asserts she qualifies for the “extraordinary circumstances” exception to the one-year time limit for filing an application for asylum. She contends her failure to file within the time limit should be excused because the agency that assisted her in obtaining a work permit, the Chinese Indonesian American Society (CIAS), neglected to tell her about asylum before the filing deadline expired. We conclude we lack jurisdiction to consider this claim, both because the Board of Immigration Appeals took no position on whether the statutory time limit bars her application and because Congress has expressly restricted our power to review agency decisions involving the time bar.

Here, the BIA expressly stated it was not finding that Mulyani successfully established an exception to the one-year filing deadline. Instead, its decision assumed that her application was timely and concluded the claim failed on the merits, regardless. In doing so, the BIA excluded the timeliness issue from the final order of removal, leaving this court without power to consider the matter.

Even if the BIA had ruled on the timeliness issue, we would not have had the power to review the issue. Congress restricted our authority in 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(3). Our power to review an immigration judge’s determination would survive only if the appeal presented a constitutional claim or question of law.

Turning to Mulyani’s claims of persecution as a Christian, the record shows that Mulyani never notified the police or any other governmental authorities about the persecution she claims to have suffered. The BIA decision points to a 2008 U.S. State Department report observing that the Indonesian government maintains programs to replace damaged churches and ease religious tensions, and that the government has successfully prosecuted perpetrators of religiously motivated violence. Other information in the report indicating religious persecution has sometimes been tolerated by the government, and website postings of incidents of persecution do not, without more, justify a reversal of the BIA.

We hold that substantial evidence supports the BIA determination that Mulyani does not qualify as a “refugee.”

Nor has petitioner established she is entitled to relief under the Convention Against Torture. None of the evidence Mulyani presents is sufficient to overcome our narrow standard of review.

Petition for review denied.

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