A Chinese Christian immigrant may have another opportunity at U.S. citizenship after failing an immigration judge's "bible quiz."
Chang Qiang Zhu, a Chinese Christian who previously sought asylum in the U.S. from the religious persecution he suffered in China, has been given another chance to plead his asylum case by a U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2009, Chang asked immigration judge Barbara Nelson for U.S. asylum, claiming that he had been beaten and imprisoned in the Asian country for months after attending a church that wasn't sanctioned by the Chinese government. Chang told Nelson that while he was in prison, he told Chinese authorities the story of Apostle Paul from the bible.
In order to test Chang's religious claims, Nelson reportedly asked the immigrant, 38, to explain the story of Paul to her in court. Nelson ultimately ruled that Chang's response was "evasive" and "hesitant," and she decided not to grant him asylum, determining he was not credible in his claims of being a Christian.
Chang appealed the decision, and this week a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals determined Nelson was wrong in denying the immigrant's credibility, and granted him a second trial with an immigration judge, meaning he may in fact be able to stay in the U.S. Chang told the New York Daily News that he is pleased with the appeals court's decision to grant him another immigration hearing, and he hopes eventually he will be granted legal status so he can avoid the religious persecution he experienced in China.
Chang's lawyer, Wendy Tso, told the NY Daily News that her client can be a devout Christian without knowing every fact about the bible or Christian-themed stories. "You don't have to know every fact to be a devout Christian," she told the newspaper. "You can be very devout and not know everything. And the Bible doesn't mandate that you have to know everything."
Each year, thousands of Chinese immigrants have sought refuge in the U.S. One of the most well-known stories from the region is that of Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese human rights lawyer who escaped house arrest in the Asian country in April 2012. After negotiations at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Guangcheng was granted U.S. asylum and was able to move to New York City with his family where he lived for one year at a housing complex at New York University. Chen is now serving a fellowship with the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.
Chen's highly publicized escape from China shed light on the desperate attempt of many to escape China's hyper-controlling government. Chen had initially been put under house arrest in the country for criticizing the government's controversial One Child Policy, and he has continued shedding light upon the country's alleged human rights abuses after entering the U.S.
"The human rights situation in China is, in fact, getting worse [...] in China, no one is safe," Chen said in a video released by the human rights group ChinaAid in December 2012. In the video, Chen also criticized the country's One Child Policy, calling it a "sinful, violent" method of population control because "life is sacred."