In assessing whether an applicant is barred from asylum or withholding removal because there are serious reasons to believe that the applicant has committed a serious nonpolitical crime before arriving in the U.S., the Board held that the seriousness of the criminal acts should be balanced against their political aspect.
E-A- participated in an attempt to discredit an opposition political party by committing acts of vandalism, assault, and intimidation, including burning buses and destroying merchandise, during the opposition party's events. The Board held that there was a political character to the activities, but that the attempts to discredit were not entitled to as much weight as actions in direct opposition to a party or government. On the other hand, the Board found the activities to involve serious criminality, particularly the arson of the buses. Even though the applicant testified that no one was hurt, it is dangerous to burn buses in the street after forcing the passengers out. Further, the crimes were directed at civilians, not the applicant's political opponents. The Board concluded that on balance the criminal conduct was disproportionate to its political nature, and thus barred asylum and withholding.