On November 20, 2002, the immigration judge (IJ) conducted the
merits hearing in Li’s case. Li was not accompanied by counsel to the
courtroom. When the IJ asked Li where counsel was, Li responded
that she was "not expecting him," and that he was not coming
"[b]ecause the fee [wa]s too high" and she "couldn’t afford it."
(Supp. J.A. at 53.) After the IJ conferred with counsel by telephone
to confirm that he was no longer representing Li, the hearing contin-
The IJ concluded that Li had not been persecuted and did not have
a well-founded fear of persecution because neither the fine nor the
IUD insertion were severe enough to amount to persecution.
also noted that Li had not had the IUD removed while she was in the
United States, and that her husband and child were still living in
China. The IJ ordered that Li be removed to China.
All of Li’s testimony at the hearing has been translated from the Man-
darin and Fu-zhou languages.
The IJ also concluded that Li could not have been fined for having a
child out of wedlock based on the timing of Li’s marriage. This conclu-
sion was erroneous and was apparently not relied on by the BIA. The IJ,
apparently as a result of the language barrier, did not understand that Li’s
1997 marriage was not sanctioned by the Chinese government and that
therefore any child born of the marriage was not authorized by the one
child policy. This error was not fatal, however, because the IJ also ana-
lyzed Li’s claim in the alternative, assuming that she had in fact been
fined for having a child out of wedlock.
At the time that the IJ rendered its decision, Hong Kong was still
independent of China, and the IJ ordered Li removed to Hong Kong or,
in the alternative, to China. Since that time, Hong Kong has reverted to
Chinese control, and the BIA amended the IJ’s order to provide for Li’s
removal to China. In a section of her brief that is largely incomprehensi-
ble, Li apparently asks us to order that she be deported to Hong Kong,
even though she acknowledges that such an order would be "technically
impossible to . . . enforce[ ]." (Appellant’s Br. at 27.) Because this sec-
tion of Li’s brief contains no citation to legal authority, Li forfeited the
argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 28(a)(9)(A) (noting that the appellant’s
brief must contain, inter alia, "citations to the authorities . . . on which
the appellant relies."); Shopco Distribution Co., Inc. v. Commanding
General of Marine Corps, 885 F.2d 167, 170 n.3 (4th Cir. 1989) (noting
that claims are forfeited if brief does not comply with Rule 28). In any
event, the BIA’s decision to amend the IJ’s removal order in light of
Hong Kong’s reversion to China was not an abuse of discretion.