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Circuit court judges throughout the nation have sharply criticized the immigration courts’ failure to protect due process and uphold fundamental rights.  These decisions have played a significant role in the immigration debate. Das v. Gonzales is one of several asylum cases the National Immigrant Justice Center has appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to demonstrate the need for review of lower cases by independent judges.
Mr. Das lived in the Hyderabad region of India, where he suffered persecution because of his Catholic beliefs and activities. The immigration judge found that the client could internally relocate within India, notwithstanding prejudice against Catholics which would have made it impossible for the client to find work, throwing him into dire poverty. Pro bono attorneys from the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis argued the immigration judge had not addressed the question of whether such a move would be reasonable under the circumstances and that the immigration judge reversed the regulatory burden of proof, which should have been on the government to show reasonability of internal relocation.
In an unpublished decision, a three-judge panel found that the country reports used by the government to argue that the client could relocate within India did not meet the burden of proof. In fact, the court pointed out that the country reports showed that violence against Christians was present throughout India. Additionally, the court stated that the Board of Immigration Appeals "did not discuss any of the factors that are part of the reasonableness' analysis such as any ongoing civil strife within the country; administrative, economic, or judicial infrastructure; geographical limitations; and social and cultural constraints, such as age, gender, health, and social and familial ties.'"