Tagaga (plaintiff) is a native of the country of Fiji and an ethnic Fijian. He rose to the rank of major in the Fijian Army. He was a strong supporter of the Labour Party, which supported the rights of Fiji's ethnic Indians, who are a minority in the country. When two military coups overthrew the democratically elected government, Tagaga was told to first cease contact with the Indian community and then to arrest Indians the regime deemed a threat. Tagaga refused and was placed under house arrest for six months. When he was reinstated, he was sent to Lebanon as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force. While there, he was informed by another officer that he would face arrest if he returned to Fiji. Tagaga obtained United States visas and fled with his family to the United States where he sought asylum. The immigration judge and Board of Immigration Appeals both denied his application for asylum and withholding of deportation. Tagaga appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.