Chinese Seeking Asylum From Forced Abortions Get Another Victory

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Chinese Seeking Asylum From Forced Abortions Get Another Victory

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 16, 2004

San Francisco, CA ( — Chinese who are seeking asylum in the United States from the forced abortion population control programs of their home country were granted another victory by a federal appeals court on Monday. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the husband of a woman who fled the country after a forced abortion can’t be refused asylum simply because China refused to recognize their marriage.

A three judge panel said the Board of Immigration Appeals should have granted asylum to Kui Rong Ma. His wife told him to flee China in 1999 after she was forcibly aborted by population control program officials.

The ruling follows a February decision by the same court that couples who face threats of forced abortions or sterilizations but haven’t actually been victimized qualify for asylum.

In the latest case, the immigration board had declined to grant asylum to Ma and his wife, Lei Chiu Ma, because they had married secretly in a ceremony put on by their local village since they failed to meet Chinese requirements for marriage.

The communist country requires men to be at least 22 years-old and women 20 years-old prior to getting married.

Two months after the secret wedding, Chiu became pregnant.

To ensure that her pregnancy would not be noticed by local birth control officials, Chiu hid in her aunt’s house in another nearby village.

Ma wanted to live with his wife without fear of reprisal, so he attempted to register his marriage with local authorities. But that resulted in birth control officials becoming aware of Chiu’s pregnancy.

In October 1998, local officials came to Ma’s house and demanded that he produce his wife for a physical examination.

When Ma refused to tell the officials where Chiu was hiding, they seized Ma’s 63-year-old father, threatening that he would be placed in detention until Chiu presented herself for an abortion. Ma tried to stop the officials from taking his father, but they beat Ma and took his father into custody.

Ma did not tell Chiu about his father’s detention, because he did not want her to surrender herself for a forced abortion.

However, family planning officials deliberately spread the news that Ma’s father had been placed in prison, hoping it would lead them to Chui. When she learned of her father-in-law’s detention and heard that he might be tortured because she was hiding, she went to the Family Planning Office to plead for his release.

She thought she might be able to persuade the officials to let her have their child, because the couple had no other children.

Instead, family planning officials arrested her and forcibly aborted the pregnancy, which was in its third trimester.

Chiu became physically and mentally ill following the abortion.

Chiu encouraged Ma to leave the country and to send for her as soon as he reached the United States. Ma smuggled himself aboard a boat, but, upon his arrival in Guam, he was intercepted by immigration authorities and placed in an immigration detention center, where he remained for a number of years.

Ma’s asylum request was originally granted by a local judge but the Immigration and Naturalization Service won an appeal on grounds that Ma and Chiu’s marriage was not certified by the Chinese government.

Ma appealed that decision and the 9th Circuit agreed with him that asylum should have been granted.

Congress has allowed up to 1,000 people annually to be granted asylum in the United States because of China’s population control program that includes forced abortions and sterilizations. The policy also covers spouses of those fleeing persecution.

Attorneys for Ma contended that the marriage restriction is an integral part of the policy that Congress targeted and that in China a pregnancy occurring during a marriage that is not registered is subject to abortion.

In their opinion, the federal appeals court agreed.

"The BIA’s refusal to grant asylum to an individual who cannot register his marriage with the Chinese government on account of a law promulgated as part of its coercive population control policy, a policy deemed by Congress to be oppressive and persecutory, contravenes the statute and leads to absurd and wholly unacceptable results," the court wrote.