The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Xiao Fei “Eddy” Zheng’s value to the community through his work with at-risk youth must be considered in immigration proceedings.
The court described Mr. Zheng’s case as “unusual in that (he) was convicted at the age of 16 of very serious crimes, served 19 years in prison followed by immigration detention, yet demonstrated, beyond his own rehabilitation, a genuine desire and commitment to prevent youth from following in his criminal footsteps.”
In 1986, Zheng pled guilty to kidnapping, robbery and firearm violations. His “substantial service to the community” led to a grant of parole by the California Board of Prison Terms. Zheng continued to work with at-risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Areas while fighting deportation to China, where he was born.
The 9th Circuit reviewed an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals that had denied Zheng’s request for a waiver of deportation. The Bureau of Immigration Appeals had failed to consider Zheng’s value and service to the community.
The 9th Circuit summarized Zheng’s achievements during his 19 years of incarceration, which included several years at San Quentin State Prison. “[Zheng] learned English, obtained his GED, earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts, co-facilitated a course entitled ‘Alternatives to violence,’ and developed a curriculum targeting at-risk immigrant teenagers, currently being used by community service providers in Northern California, and developed a business plan for a non-profit agency.”
Following his release on parole in 2005, Zheng continued to work in the immigrant and youth community of Northern California.
The 9th Circuit held that the Bureau of Immigration Appeals had failed to consider Zheng’s work with youth and his value to the community. Among the community leaders who wrote letters to the immigration court describing Zheng’s work were the Rev. Norman Fong, program director of Chinatown Community Development Center, and Jane Kim, youth program director.
The 9th Circuit’s decision was published May 6, 2011 and can be applied to others who are fighting deportation. Zheng’s case will now return to the Bureau of Immigration Appeals for a new decision. Zheng expects that the Bureau of Immigration Appeals will order a new hearing before the Immigration Court.
The case is Xiao Fe Zheng v. Eric H. Holder Jr., Attorney General [No. 06-75258]