Baljinder kaur

Indian Sikh activists shouted slogans in support of Khalistan after prayers on the 33rd anniversary of Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on June 6. A San Francisco Bay Area couple has asked for asylum in the U.S., fearing persecution in India because of their support for Khalistan. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

A San Francisco, Calif., Bay Area couple has asked for asylum in the U.S., based on their fear of persecution in India for their support of Khalistan.

Baljinder Kaur, and her husband, Gurbir Singh, were ordered deported in 2002. The couple had overstayed their visitors’ visas. In 2005, an immigration judge rejected the couple’s asylum application, saying their fears of persecution were unfounded. The immigration judge concluded that several of Kaur’s key assertions, including details regarding the death of her father in 1991 and of her three arrests between 1997 and 1999 lacked credibility because of the inconsistencies in her statements, according to court records

Singh and Kaur attempted to re-open their case in 2012, after receiving an affidavit from Kaur’s sister, Balraj Kaur, which alleged that in 2011 the police raided a family ceremony held in India, seeking Baljinder Kaur.

Police allegedly held Balraj Kaur in custody, and released her only after warning her that she must tell the police if Baljinder returned to India. Police also told Balraj that they would not release her sister if she was apprehended, according to Kaur’s affidavit in court records.

The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled against re-opening the case in 2012, saying Balraj Kaur’s statements in the affidavit were inconsistent, and that her claims were untrustworthy.

But on Aug. 7, a panel of three judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals had overstepped its role, and ruled that Kaur and Singh’s petitions should be reviewed.

“There was no support for the BIA’s assertion that Balraj’s affidavit was speculative, as she stated details about facts that she allegedly witnessed, wrote the judges in their ruling.

The judges also noted that – unless the BIA found the facts to be inherently unbelievable – it was required to re-open the case.

“The government does not suggest that these statements were inherently unbelievable. The BIA also did not find the statements to be inherently unbelievable,” noted the judges. “Instead, it refused to accept the new facts regarding the raid on the family gathering as true because an immigration judge had previously found incredible Kaur’s statements regarding past related persecution.”

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