This case hinges on the validity of a 1981 divorce between petitioner Gurcharan Singh Dulai ("Dulai") and his first wife, Joginder Kaur. Both the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") and the Immigration Judge ("IJ") found that the divorce was invalid. Substantial evidence supports that conclusion, therefore, the ruling below must be affirmed.
Dulai was born in the Village of Sangatpur, Jalandhar District, India in 1942 and married Joginder Kaur ("Kaur") in 1959. In 1981, after Dulai had illegally entered this country, he learned that his wife, Kaur, was seeking a divorce and sent a power of attorney to his father so that his father could represent him in village divorce proceedings. Dulai claims that the Gram Panchayat ("Village Committee") granted the divorce according to local custom. In February 1983, Dulai married a U.S. citizen named Virginia Laure Neslin. That marriage was annulled on August 11, 1983, apparently because Neslin was already married to someone else. Days later, on August 20, 1983, Dulai married another American woman, Linda Lee ("Lee"). Soon after, Lee requested visas for Dulai and his five children who remained in India. The INS approved the petitions and forwarded the case to the U.S. Consul in New Delhi to process the visas for the five children.
While conducting routine interviews of the children, a consular officer in New Delhi became suspicious of the alleged 1981 divorce. In the months the followed, authorities traveled to Dulai's home village of Sangatpur to investigate the 1981 divorce. Apparently in response to this investigation, Dulai's first wife obtained a judicial decree from a Sub-Judge in 1985 confirming their divorce. Application for this declaratory judgment was made through the "Sondhi Travel Agent," an agency known to the Department of State to fabricate documents.
Around the same time, petitioner Dulai and his new wife Linda Lee were arrested and charged with participating in a sham marriage ring. Authorities alleged that Dulai had been involved in a scheme to assist others in entering into fraudulent marriages for immigration purposes. Dulai pleaded guilty in June 1986 to a charge of concealing information from a federal agency and possession of false papers to defraud the United States under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001 and Sec. 1002.
By this time, Department of State investigators had concluded that Dulai's 1981 divorce, and therefore his remarriage and previously issued immigrant visa, were invalid. In INS deportation proceedings, both the IJ and BIA found that Dulai's 1981 divorce was invalid. This BIA decision is the subject of the present appeal.
The scope of our review of BIA decisions is limited. On petition for review, we must affirm if there is reasonable, substantial, and probative evidence to support the BIA's decision that the INS carried its burden of proving deportability. 8 U.S.C. 1105a(a)(4) (1970); Hernandez-Robledo v. INS, 777 F.2d 536, 539 (9th Cir.1985). We may not reverse simply because the evidence admits of more than one conclusion or because we disagree with the BIA's evaluation of the facts. See INS v. Elias-Zacarias, 112 S.Ct. 812, 815 (1992) (construing Sec. 1105a(a)(4)). Rather, an alien who seeks review of the BIA's determination "must show that the evidence presented was so compelling that no reasonable fact-finder could fail" to rule in his favor. Id. at 817. Dulai's evidence clearly does not meet this stringent standard.
Dulai argues that his alleged 1981 divorce was a valid customary dissolution of marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 ("Marriage Act"). The Marriage Act permits married couples to divorce in accordance with local custom and without judicial intervention. See Marriage Act Sec. 29(2).
Under the Marriage Act, the threshold question is whether local custom in Dulai's home village of Sangatpur recognized extrajudicial divorce by mutual consent. Marriage Act at Sec.
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
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