By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
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"There's certainly ample evidence for future prosecution," says Amnesty International's Zimmerman. "If he's sent back to China, that would be a serious miscarriage of justice."
Jason gets a second chance to reurge an immigration judge to grant him asylum. Local Falun Gong practitioners spoke with an immigration attorney in Florida on Jason's behalf, but he wanted a $20,000 retainer, which Jason couldn't afford. Since neither he nor wife Gina has a valid work visa, neither of them has a job. They are living off the little they saved from their graduate-student stipends, and friends are supplementing the rest. Jason qualified for free legal aid at the YMCA, but it was three months before an attorney accepted the case pro bono.
Immigration attorney Tony Vu Dinh took the case on the Friday before Jason's Monday-morning hearing. Dinh asked the judge for an extension, and the hearing will be rescheduled next month, Dinh says. (Until then, Dinh declined to comment on the case.)
"His time is about up," says local Falun Gong practitioner Dianna Roberts, senior statistical analyst for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
The easy way for Jason to end his problems would be to sign the declaration promising to never practice Falun Gong. Then the consulate would happily stamp his passport, change his visa, and he could stay in the United States.
"That would be easier," Jason says. "But we prefer truthful."
Since the three tenets of Falun Gong are truthfulness, compassion and forbearance, he says, it would go against his beliefs to lie. "We cannot lie," Jason says. "We cannot say Falun Gong is not good, because we know Falun Gong is good. That is not truthful."
Roberts says that would be "such a big lie" it would "stain his soul forever."
Jason and wife Gina continue to openly practice Falun Gong and write letters to members of Congress. They worry about what will happen if they are sent back to China. Because their son was born in the United States, he technically could stay; they don't want to leave their child alone, but they also don't want to take him to his death. They have read stories about an eight-month-old boy who was killed when his mother refused to give up Falun Gong.
Gina mailed Falun Gong pamphlets to her family, but they said they never received them. She asked her mother-in-law to take to her brother and four sisters copies of Master Li's lectures, but they refused to read them. When she calls home, Gina's family members take turns crying and begging her to quit practicing Falun Gong. They cry, they yell, she cries, too.
Two weeks ago was Gina's mother's birthday. When she phoned during the celebration at her sister's house, everyone asked her, When are you coming back? When are you coming home?
"They know that I cannot come back," Gina says.