Circu V Gonzales

450 F.3d 990 (9th Cir. 2006)


P is a native and citizen of Romania, where Romanian Orthodox Christianity is the predominant religion. P and her family are Pentecostal Christians. P entered the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor for pleasure and was authorized to remain here until November 1, 1995. P was charged for overstaying her visa under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(B)). Conceding deportability, P applied for asylum based primarily on religious persecution. P testified about specific instances of persecution. The IJ found that P testified credibly. More than two years after the conclusion of the hearing, the IJ filed an opinion denying P's petition for relief but permitting her to voluntarily depart the United States. The IJ found that the INS successfully rebutted this presumption with evidence of changed country conditions. (emphasis in original). The IJ relied on The January 1997 Profile of Country Conditions issued by the Department of State that states Pentecostals and other unregistered sects had a difficult time in Romania. But the 1999 Report indicates that open worship is now possible and is only marred occasionally by unsanctioned harassment by local officials. The 1997 Profile of Country Conditions was part of the administrative record. The 1999 Report, was released on February 23, 2000, nineteen months after the conclusion of the hearing, and was not part of the administrative record. P appealed and requested an opportunity to rebut the 1999 report. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s decision. P appealed.