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On the February 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, during a discussion of the asylum petition of Mexican citizen Jorge Soto Vega, which was recently granted based on his claim of persecution in Mexico because of his sexual orientation, host Bill O'Reilly told Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly: "If you go to any of the resort areas, Cancún or Acapulco, as I mentioned, Puerto Vallarta, any of them -- come on, it's gay parade time. Don't tell me they're being persecuted." Kelly responded that she "didn't recall that," but O'Reilly maintained: "There's gay bars; there's gay restaurants; there's gay everything."
O'Reilly attributed the result in the case to the "9th Circuit Court of Appeal[s] again trying to impose its wacky view of the world on us." Kelly exclaimed that "[a]mazingly ... [t]his has been happening for years. There are hundreds of people who have gotten asylum in the United States based on the fact that they are homosexual." O'Reilly and Kelly were apparently referring to a May 3, 2006, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that overturned immigration judge John D. Taylor's ruling denying Soto Vega's asylum claim. The 9th Circuit held that Taylor had improperly ruled that even though "the testimony of [Soto Vega] did demonstrate past persecution,' " Soto Vega must also prove that he reasonably feared future persecution as well. The 9th Circuit stated that according to its precedents, "[o]nce a petitioner has established past persecution, a rebuttable presumption exists that the petitioner has established a well-founded fear of future persecution." The government has the burden of showing "a fundamental change of circumstance or that petitioner could reasonably relocate to another part of the country." The 9th Circuit sent the case back to the immigration judge to determine if the government could make that case. Upon rehearing the case, Taylor granted Soto Vega's asylum claim.
O'Reilly praised part of Taylor's original decision, subsequently overturned by the 9th Circuit, which, according to the Los Angeles Times, stated that Soto Vega "could return to Mexico since 'it would not be obvious that he was homosexual unless he made it obvious himself.' " O'Reilly asserted: "I think the immigration court made the right decision, basically saying, 'Look, you could be anybody. Just go back there and don't wear a dress... and you'll be OK.' "
However, O'Reilly took issue with another part of Taylor's original decision, the ruling that Soto Vega's testimony that he had been subjected to persecution was credible. O'Reilly noted that Soto Vega claimed that "the [Mexican] police beat him with a flashlight because he was gay." He asked if there were "any proof of that." Kelly responded that "[e]ven the immigration judge said his testimony was fairly credible" on that point, to which O'Reilly asserted: "But it's just his testimony. ... I didn't see a shot of the policeman beating him." He asked Kelly if she saw "bruises" or "doctors' testimony." Kelly responded that she had seen neither.
From the February 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: OK. Does this have any merit? It's a 9th Circuit Court of Appeal again trying to impose its wacky view of the world on us.
KELLY: Amazingly, it does have merit. And this guy Soto Vega is not the only one. This has been happening for years. There are hundreds of people who have gotten asylum in the United States based on the fact that they are homosexual.
What happened in this case was this guy grew up in Mexico. He immigrated -- well, he was an illegal immigrant here in '88 --
KELLY: -- went back home. Came back to the United States and said, "You know what? I'm going to try to do it legally this time and I'm going to ask for asylum because I was persecuted for being gay while I lived in Mexico."
So, the immigration judge said, "Nice try, but no." And the -- his reasoning was, "You don't look gay. You don't sound gay. You can pass for being straight. So, go back to Mexico and do that."
Well, he appealed to the 9th Circuit, saying, "What? What kind of standard is that? Why should I have to act heterosexual in order to get asylum?"
Well, he -- the 9th Circuit agreed and said, "That's not the standard." They said the standard is if you were persecuted in the past, then you have a reasonable likelihood of being persecuted in the future.
O'REILLY: Well, what happened to the guy in the past? What did he bring in to prove he was persecuted?
KELLY: He says that the police beat him with a flashlight because he was gay.
O'REILLY: OK, does he -- does he have any proof of that?
KELLY: Yeah, the -- even the immigration judge said his testimony was fairly credible on the persecution he had suffered.
O'REILLY: But it's just his testimony.
KELLY: Just his testimony.
O'REILLY: I didn't see a shot of the policeman beating him. Did you?
KELLY: No. No.
O'REILLY: Did you see bruises?
KELLY: No, I saw nothing.
O'REILLY: Did you see doctors' testimony?
KELLY: Just the guy's testimony.
O'REILLY: OK. So he comes in and goes, "Hey, somebody beat me up." Now, if this is the standard, then every gay person in the world --
O'REILLY: -- can come in and do this.
KELLY: Yes, and it's happened. People from Iran, people from Lebanon, people from all over the world have sought --
O'REILLY: But you'll get beheaded -- you'll get beheaded in Iran. And I'm serious --
KELLY: Yeah, yes. Right. That's true.
O'REILLY: -- because you can get killed. It's a different thing when you're a homosexual and you get killed --
KELLY: Well, that's true.
O'REILLY: -- than this guy, because, with all due respect to this guy, he might have spit on the cop. He might have done anything to the cop. Look, if you go to Mexico -- have you been?
O'REILLY: All right. If you go to any of the resort areas, Cancún or Acapulco, as I mentioned, Puerto Vallarta, any of them -- come on, it's gay parade time. Don't tell me they're being persecuted.
KELLY: I don't recall that.
O'REILLY: There's gay bars; there's gay restaurants; there's gay everything.
KELLY: Well, Bill -- Bill --
O'REILLY: Don't give me this.
KELLY: Not just in Mexico. There are plenty of gay people here and anti-gay people here in the United States. That's the thing is that the United States is not just this, you know, welcoming country where there are no homophobes. I mean, there are anti-gay --
O'REILLY: No, that's right, he could get beat up here --
KELLY: -- there's anti-gay discrimination in this country, as well.
O'REILLY: -- but here's what I'm worried -- here's what I believe happened here. I think the immigration court made the right decision, basically saying, "Look, you could be anybody. Just go back there and don't wear a dress" --
KELLY: Yeah, but to say you've got to --
O'REILLY: -- "and you'll be OK."