Skip to main content

SINGH v. ROSEN (2021)

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Karamvir SINGH, Petitioner, v. Jeffrey A. ROSEN, Acting United States Attorney General, Respondent.*


Decided: January 21, 2021

PRESENT: PIERRE N. LEVAL, DEBRA ANN LIVINGSTON, RAYMOND J. LOHIER, JR., Circuit Judges. FOR PETITIONER: Deepti Vithal, Richmond Hill, NY. FOR RESPONDENT: Ethan P. Davis, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Jessica E. Burns, Senior Litigation Counsel; Juria L. Jones, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.


Petitioner Karamvir Singh, a native and citizen of India, seeks review of a September 4, 2018, decision of the BIA affirming an October 3, 2017, decision of an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) denying his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). In re Karamvir Singh, No. A205 585 720 (B.I.A. Sep. 4, 2018), aff'g No. A205 585 720 (Immig. Ct. N.Y. City Oct. 3, 2017). We assume the parties’ familiarity with the underlying facts and procedural history.

Under the circumstances of this case, we have reviewed the IJ's decision as modified by the BIA, i.e., minus the IJ's credibility and internal relocation determinations because the BIA did not rely on those grounds in affirming the IJ's decision. See Xue Hong Yang v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 426 F.3d 520, 522 (2d Cir. 2005); see also Lin Zhong v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 480 F.3d 104, 122 (2d Cir. 2007) (“[W]hen the BIA issues an opinion ․ and that opinion constitutes the final agency determination, we may consider only those issues that formed the basis for that decision.”). The applicable standards of review are well established. See 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(4)(B); Lecaj v. Holder, 616 F.3d 111, 114 (2d Cir. 2010).

Singh claimed that Muslims who belonged to the Congress Party threatened and attacked him after he refused to sell them land on which they wanted to build a mosque. As to asylum and withholding of removal, the agency denied relief because Singh did not establish a nexus between the attacks and a protected ground of religion or political opinion. Substantial evidence supports the agency's determination.

For asylum and withholding of removal, an “applicant must establish that race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for” the claimed persecution. 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i) (asylum); see also 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A) (withholding); Matter of C-T-L-, 25 I. & N. Dec. 341, 348 (BIA 2010) (holding that the “one central reason” standard also applies to withholding of removal). Relief “may be granted where there is more than one motive for mistreatment, as long as at least one central reason for the mistreatment is on account of a protected ground.” Acharya v. Holder, 761 F.3d 289, 297 (2d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). Under this “one central reason” standard, “the protected ground cannot play a minor role in the alien's past mistreatment or fears of future mistreatment. That is, it cannot be incidental, tangential, superficial, or subordinate to another reason for harm.” In re J-B-N- & S-M-, 24 I. & N. Dec. 208, 214 (BIA 2007).

Singh testified that he was attacked by members of the Congress Party because he refused to sell his land to them. He denied belonging to or supporting any political party in India. He said that his attackers wanted to buy his land because it “was right beside the highway,” and he heard from other villagers that his attackers “wanted to put the mosque there.” He testified that he was Hindu and his attackers wanted to build a mosque, but he did not state that his attackers knew his religion or that his religion was a reason he was targeted. Based on this testimony, the agency reasonably concluded that the motive for the attack was a land dispute, and Singh did not provide evidence that his political beliefs or religion were “at least one central reason for the [attacks].” Acharya, 761 F.3d at 297; see also INS v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 483, 112 S.Ct. 812, 117 L.Ed.2d 38 (1992) (holding that an applicant “must provide some evidence of [a persecutor's motives], direct or circumstantial”); Yueqing Zhang v. Gonzales, 426 F.3d 540, 545 (2d Cir. 2005) (“The applicant must also show, through direct or circumstantial evidence, that the persecutor's motive to persecute arises from the applicant's political belief.”).

Singh's argument that “no questions were asked” at the merits hearing about his religion or how his attackers urged him to convert to Islam is unavailing. If he is faulting his prior attorney for not asking such questions, the argument is unexhausted and not subject to review because he did not raise an ineffective assistance claim before the agency. See Lin Zhong, 480 F.3d at 122–23 (holding that our review is generally limited to issues raised before the agency); Arango-Aradondo v. INS, 13 F.3d 610, 614–15 (2d Cir. 1994) (holding that the BIA must review an ineffective assistance claim in the first instance either on appeal or through a motion to reopen). If Singh is instead faulting the IJ or the Government for not asking such questions, the argument is meritless because Singh had the burden to establish his eligibility for relief. See 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i).

Finally, with respect to the denial of CAT relief, Singh did not challenge the IJ's findings and conclusions in his brief to the BIA. Accordingly, he has forfeited a claim of error in the denial of CAT relief.

For the foregoing reasons, the petition for review is DENIED. All pending motions and applications are DENIED and stays VACATED.

Was this helpful?

Thank you. Your response has been sent.

Welcome to FindLaw's Cases & Codes

A free source of state and federal court opinions, state laws, and the United States Code. For more information about the legal concepts addressed by these cases and statutes visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law.

Go to Learn About the Law
SINGH v. ROSEN (2021)

Docket No: 18-2879

Decided: January 21, 2021

Court: United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Get a profile on the #1 online legal directory

Harness the power of our directory with your own profile. Select the button below to sign up.

Sign up

Learn About the Law

Get help with your legal needs

FindLaw’s Learn About the Law features thousands of informational articles to help you understand your options. And if you’re ready to hire an attorney, find one in your area who can help.

Learn more about the law
Copied to clipboard