(CN) - An immigration court can consider a "credible fear" interview to decide if an immigrant is eligible for asylum, the 2nd Circuit ruled.
The use of these interviews in establishing an immigrant's credibility was an issue of first impression for the Manhattan-based appeals court.
When an immigrant arrives in the United States and is deemed inadmissible, he or she undergoes an interview at the airport. The interview is followed up by a credible fear interview if the interviewee expresses a fear of persecution or torture.
Ming Zhang and her son, Ja Yun, were detained at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and were later interviewed by an immigration inspector.
Zhang said she feared forced sterilization in China, claiming family planning officials threatened to arrest her for refusing to have an intrauterine device reinserted.
She later said she had two forced abortions.
The immigration judge denied her petition for asylum on the basis that there were several discrepancies in her testimony and petition, including her failure to mention the abortions at the airport and credible fear interviews.
The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.
Zhang argued that the immigration courts should not have relied on her first two interviews to gauge her credibility, because she was "nervous and afraid."
But the 2nd Circuit upheld the denial of her asylum petition, saying the purpose of the interviews had been carefully explained to her, and she was given the opportunity to ask for clarification.
The record of those interviews was "sufficiently reliable to merit consideration," Judge Jose Cabranes concluded.
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