(CN) – An immigration judge improperly blocked a Mexican woman from testifying that moving back to Mexico would cause “extremely unusual hardship” on her 4-year-old son, who possibly has learning disabilities, the 9th Circuit ruled.
The three-judge panel in Pasadena, Calif., said the judge denied Araceli Cruz Rendon a “full and fair hearing” by limiting her testimony about her son, Jose. She had submitted a psychologist’s written report stating that Jose showed symptoms of ADHD and learning and speech disabilities.
The judge cut her off as she was discussing these concerns, stating, “I believe the psychologist’s evaluation is much better than what this lady has to tell me,” according to the ruling.
The judge also interrupted Cruz Rendon’s attorney when he tried to ask her where she worked, saying the report already covered her employment history.
“I don’t want to hear anything else that’s already in the report,” the judge later stated, then rejected the report’s findings as speculative.
“The mere fact that a child may have attention deficit, and even if he does have attention deficit, does not mean that he cannot have proper treatment in Mexico,” the judge said.
Cruz Rendon said she feared taking her son, a U.S. citizen, to Mexico based on her own experience that children are often mistreated or beaten in Mexican schools.
But the immigration judge said she presented no evidence to back up this claim, adding that the Mexican government “is really trying very hard” to work on special education classes.
Cruz Rendon lost her asylum petition and her bid for another continuance. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed, but the 9th Circuit reversed.
“The (immigration judge) precluded Cruz Rendon from offering any significant testimony of her own regarding her life she had created for Jose in the United States, Jose’s medical and educational needs, and the hardships Jose would face if forced to relocate to Mexico,” wrote U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel, who participated in the panel decision.
“All of these are factors that an (immigration judge) should consider when adjudicating an application for cancellation of removal.”
The panel granted Cruz Rendon’s petition for review and instructed the appeals board to order a new hearing.