Aguilar-Escoto v. Sessions

United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit No. 16-1090 IRMA AGUILAR-ESCOTO, Petitioner, v. JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, Attorney General of the United States,* Respondent. PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS Before Howard, Chief Judge, Thompson and Kayatta, Circuit Judges. Carlos E. Estrada, with whom Estrada Law Office was on brief, for petitioner. Yanal H. Yousef, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, with whom Anthony P. Nicastro, Assistant Director, Office of Immigration Litigation, and Benjamin C. Mizer, Principal Deputy, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, were on brief, for respondent. October 27, 2017 * Pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 43(c)(2), Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions, III has been substituted for former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch as respondent. HOWARD, Chief Judge. Petitioner Irma Aguilar-Escoto, a native and citizen of Honduras, asks us to vacate a Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA" or "Board") order rejecting her claim for withholding of removal. Aguilar's application for relief was predicated upon alleged domestic violence by her ex-husband. Because the BIA failed to consider potentially significant documentary evidence submitted in support of Aguilar's claim, we vacate the agency's order. I. Aguilar first entered the United States in August 2005, but she was apprehended and removed to Honduras. About four years later, Aguilar returned to the United States. She was again apprehended, and the Department of Homeland Security filed a notice to reinstate her prior removal order. The case was subsequently referred to Immigration Court. Aguilar then filed the instant application for withholding of removal. In order to succeed on a withholding claim, an applicant must establish that her "life or freedom would be threatened" in her home country because of her "race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A). In light of her reinstated removal order, Aguilar was not eligible to apply for asylum, a separate form of relief for aliens harboring a "well-founded fear of persecution on account of" a protected ground. 8 U.S.C. - 2 - § 1101(a)(42)(A); see also Garcia v. Sessions, 856 F.3d 27, 33 (1st Cir. 2017). In March 2013, an immigration judge ("IJ") conducted a merits hearing. At the hearing, Aguilar testified to suffering relentless physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by Victor Gonzalez, whom she married in 1997 and later divorced. The IJ, however, citing various perceived inconsistencies, found that Aguilar's testimony was "not credible" and therefore discounted it. After rendering this adverse credibility finding, the IJ went on to separately address the other evidence that Aguilar had submitted "[a]side from her discredited testimony." Aguilar had provided "police reports, a family court order, a medical record, and two declarations" evidencing her abusive relationship with Gonzalez. According to the IJ, this documentary evidence "suggest[ed] that between 2004 and 2008, [Gonzalez] struck [Aguilar] once or twice, threatened [Aguilar] and her family, and publicly ridiculed and shamed [Aguilar]. . . . As a result, [Aguilar] sought court-ordered psychological treatment and was prescribed antidepressants and sedatives ...

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