In Nababan v. Garland, (9th Cir., Nov. 23, 2021), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) a petition by two Indonesians who are members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church who are seeking asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. In order for the BIA to reopen petitioners’ case, they would need to show changed conditions in Indonesia since the earlier denial of their petitions. In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court held that the BIA had committed legal error in finding no material change of conditions. The majority said in part:
[The BIA] failed, … to account for Petitioners’ status as evangelical Christians or the evidence they presented indicating that evangelical Christians have experienced a particular increase in violence and persecution, beyond that experienced by Indonesian Christians in general.
Judge VanDyke dissented, saying in part:
The majority’s emphasis on the term “evangelical Christian” is not just absurdly fussy, it’s also inherently fuzzy. The majority latches onto the term, but never defines what it means. Does the majority mean that “evangelical Christians” are a subgroup of Christianity, akin to the commonly used distinction between, say, Catholics and Protestants? Or does the majority simply mean that “evangelical Christians” refers to any “Christians” who evangelize? If the latter, this broad categorization encompasses the vast majority, if not all, Christians….