Argued, November 18, 2014
Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A097-701-886.
For Gonchigsharav Nadmid, Petitioner: Jason Sager, Attorney, Law Office of Jason Sager, Chicago, IL.
For ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent: OIL, Attorney, Robert M. Stalzer, Attorney, Department of Justice, Civil Division, Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC.
Before BAUER, MANION, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.
Williams, Circuit Judge.
Gonchigsharav Nadmid, a Mongolian businessman, petitions for review of the denial of his application for asylum and withholding from removal based on (1) his political opinion denouncing two prominent and corrupt politicians by name at a public rally and (2) his membership in the social group of business owners who seek to expose and end corruption between politicians and businesses. Because the adverse credibility determination of the immigration judge was flawed, we grant the petition and remand for further proceedings.
Nadmid, a 57-year-old native and citizen of Mongolia, came to the United States in 2003 on a visitor's visa and overstayed. After being arrested in Pennsylvania for driving under the influence, he voluntarily departed in 2006 and returned to Mongolia, where he started a business manufacturing construction materials.
Nadmid returned to the United States in late 2009, presenting the same visa he had obtained six years earlier. He was detained at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, where a Customs and Border Patrol officer, through a Russian translator, conducted two interviews with him. During the first interview, Nadmid answered basic biographical questions, informed the officer that he was coming to the United States to visit his daughter (who holds a green card), and answered " no" when asked if he feared returning to Mongolia. In a second interview later that day (and after speaking with his daughter), Nadmid told the officer that, if returned to Mongolia, he feared being killed by agents from Oyu Tolgoi (a large, partially government-owned mining operation in Mongolia), whose demand for $200,000 he had rebuffed. Nadmid mentioned several instances in which thugs, including a man named Tsegmid, confronted and threatened him at his business. A month later an asylum officer conducted a credible-fear interview, this time through a Mongolian translator, and determined that Nadmid did have a credible fear of persecution.
In an affidavit accompanying his asylum application and in his testimony at his removal hearing in 2011, Nadmid described his political activity in Mongolia and the consequences he faced for speaking out against political corruption. He recounted that in mid-2009 he participated in an anti-corruption protest in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, at which he spoke out on stage and accused two politicians from the ruling Mongolian People's Party of misappropriating public funds. Five days after the protest, several unidentified men showed up at his business and assaulted him, knocking him unconscious with a metal rod to his head; afterward he had to be hospitalized. Nadmid's assailants did not address him directly but he overheard them saying that he " talks too much shit." The following month the men returned but Nadmid managed to slip out through the back door. Several weeks later two different
men confronted him at his business and demanded $200,000, a sum well beyond Nadmid's means. Nadmid returned home later that day to find that his kitchen window had ...