In an unprecedented move made by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in agreeing with the U.S. Board of Immigration, a Chinese Christian who escaped persecution from China to the U.S. was denied asylum.
Last month, Xiaodong Li from Ningpo, China, who was a member of the underground evangelical Christian church, was denied asylum because he was a member of an "illegal" house church, Christian Freedom reported.
The board concluded that Li "feared legal action or prosecution, not persecution," while the court ruled that he was punished for "illegal activities and not for his religion," CF said.
Li was tortured by officials, brutally beaten, kicked, and shocked by electric batons until he confessed that he took part in organizing "unauthorized" Chinese Christian house church meetings, but despite this the 11 board members of the Immigration Appeals stated that "China has a legitimate right to enforce" this type of action because Li violated the laws of "unregistered churches," CF reported.
Last month, the three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the board's ruling, which will result in making it more difficult for persecuted individuals to seek asylum.
Chinese Christians in China such as Li who worship in underground churches face the threat of arrest and persecution, but have chosen not to register due to the constant surveillance from the government and the restrictions placed on their worship services to God.
His lawyer from the Alliance Defense Fund said, in a press release at the end of August, that if denied, they will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying imiigration laws."
"The decisions of the Board are binding...unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a Federal court."