Cordoba v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 08-13-2013
  • Case #: 10-73112
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Reinhardt for the Court; Circuit Judge Murguia, and District Judge Zouhary
  • Full Text Opinion

The Board of Immigration Appeals must consider whether landownership qualifies as a "particular social group" for a member to be eligible for asylum and withholding under the Immigration and Nationality Act in light of in light of Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder, and also must consider whether a public official is aware of torturous activity, rather than whether he has actual knowledge of a specific incident, when reviewing a Convention Against Torture claim for relief.

Edgar Rene Cordoba, a citizen of Columbia, and Antonio Medina-Gonzalez, a citizen of Mexico, "Petitioners," applied to the Board of Immigration Appeals, "BIA" for asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture, "CAT" relief under the Immigration and Nationality Act, "INA" 8 U.S.C. §§ 208(b)(1) and 1158(b)(1). Both claimed membership of a "particular social group" of landowners, who are unwilling to return to their countries because of persecution for owning land. Petitioners and/or their families were abducted, threatened, assaulted and extorted by organizations that target wealthy landowners. Petitioners were told by their respective local governments that they could not be protected. Petitioners fled to the United States and their claims were denied by the BIA, which held that landowners are not perceived by society as a group or distinct, and there was not evidence that public officials had knowledge of specific incidents of torture. The Ninth Circuit granted review and remanded the Petitioners' claims of membership in a "particular social group" to be reconsidered in light of Henrquez-Rivas v. Holder, which held that members of a proposed group have a shared characteristic sufficient to be socially visible when perceived as a particular social group by society. Moreover, the BIA's refusal to recognize the group is inconsistent with 30 years of decisions establishing that landownership is an easily recognizable trait that may be the basis of membership in a particular social group. Because the Petitioners' claims for withholding were decided on the same basis as denial, the panel reversed and remanded those determinations; denied Cordoba's CAT claim, and remanded Medina-Gonzalez's to apply Tapia-Madrigal v. Holder to determine whether a public official was aware of torturous activity rather than had actual knowledge of a specific incident. DENIED in part; GRANTED in part; REMANDED.

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