NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court that rejected a Chinese woman's asylum request found that she helped her country's government limit childbirths for over two decades.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that 61-year-old Suzhen Meng assisted in the persecution of women for 22 years as the sole public security officer in a region where she monitored about 1,100 households.
An immigration court previously found that she reported women with unauthorized pregnancies knowing they would be subjected to forced abortions and sterilizations. China's policy in her region permitted families to have one child. The appeals court noted that Meng had testified to seeing women who had violated the policy being dragged away forcibly by police.
After arriving in the United States in February 2008, Meng sought asylum on the grounds that she faced political persecution in China. The immigration judge's ruling said Meng was working odd jobs in New York because she got dismissed from her job in China and was not receiving a pension.
An immigration judge rejected her asylum request in 2010, after which she appealed.
In asylum claims recounted in an appeals court decision Monday, Meng said she reported police corruption while she was a security officer, leading her to be arrested and held for two weeks, when a guard slapped her face several times and fellow prisoners beat her on instruction of guards. One encounter resulted in Meng having a tooth knocked out, according to court documents.
Her lawyer, Gary Yerman, said Tuesday that Meng was merely a "statistician, a census taker" who tracked births. He said an appeal was possible.
"She didn't actively assist the persecution of others," he said.
In court documents, Yerman said Meng was the regional police officer for her district in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, and came to the U.S. at the invitation of her sister, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Yerman also said the chief of the political department at the Hanyang security office warned Meng not to apply for asylum when she came to the U.S. or there would be consequences.
The appeals court "seemed to exaggerate Ms. Ming's importance to the family planning enforcement in China," Yerman said.
In a decision written by Circuit Judge Reena Raggi, a three-judge panel noted that Ming sometimes advised women she would report as being pregnant to hide or flee, but it said she was "integral to the effectuation of persecution."
It added: "Meng's reporting of policy-violating women was no 'minor' action, but the critical step that set in motion the entire persecutor scheme of enforcement."