Golden Gate University Law Review


Roxana M. Smith


In Zhang v. Gonzales, the Ninth Circuit considered for the first time whether an unaccompanied minor child of a parent who was forcibly sterilized should be automatically eligible to apply for asylum. Deferring to the statutory interpretation adopted by the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA"), the court found against the child. The court's opinion retreated from earlier dictum suggesting that the refugee statute could reasonably be extended to grant automatic eligibility to a child. However, the court went on to hold that the parents' political opinion - in the form of resistance to coercive population controls - could still be imputed to the child for purposes of establishing asylum eligibility based on persecution suffered by the child. Because the BIA's decision on this issue - that Ms. Zhang had not suffered persecution - was not supported by sufficient evidence, the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for further proceedings.