Escobar-Verdecia v. Garland

Case: 21-60160 Document: 00516609257 Page: 1 Date Filed: 01/12/2023 United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED January 12, 2023 No. 21-60160 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk Rafael Escobar-Verdecia, Petitioner, versus Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General, Respondent. Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals BIA No. A213 160 308 Before Richman, Chief Judge, and Elrod and Oldham, Circuit Judges. Per Curiam:* Rafael Escobar-Verdecia, a native and citizen of Cuba, seeks asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Escobar-Verdecia complains of egregious treatment at the hands of the Cuban government. After both the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied relief, he filed a petition for review in this court. * This opinion is not designated for publication. See 5th Cir. R. 47.5. Case: 21-60160 Document: 00516609257 Page: 2 Date Filed: 01/12/2023 No. 21-60160 Because Escobar-Verdecia fails to show any reversible error by the BIA, we DENY in part and DISMISS in part the petition for review. I Escobar-Verdecia arrived in the United States in June 2019 and was shortly afterward detained by the Department of Homeland Security for illegal entry. As Escobar-Verdecia tells it, he fled Cuba because the government had been targeting him for his anti-communist political commitments. For example, he alleges that in 1996, the Cuban government took away his teaching job because he would not participate in a pro- government march. As a result, he had to become a food processor and seller. He contends that the job came with persistent, arbitrary fines levied against him. Escobar-Verdecia also asserts that he was subjected to threats and physical violence by the Cuban government. He testified during his hearing before the IJ that he was detained and threatened with violence at least three times by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, a branch of the government created to plant informants in Cuban communities. By his telling, the series of events giving rise to his seeking asylum in the United States began sometime between September and November of 2018, when the Committees were drafting a bill for the new Cuban constitution. The President of the Committees and the Police Chief told Escobar-Verdecia that if he did not support the draft bill and vote in the February 2019 election, the Committees were going to “incriminate [him] as a worm and as a counterrevolutionary.” 1 1 In Cuba, ‘gusano’ (worm) is a derogatory term used widely to describe those perceived to be in opposition to the government, critical of revolutionary ideology, or spies of the USA. 2 Case: 21-60160 Document: 00516609257 Page: 3 Date Filed: 01/12/2023 No. 21-60160 Escobar-Verdecia did not vote in the February election. Consequently, on the next day, the Committees President and the Police Chief took Escobar-Verdecia from his home and brought him to a Committees meeting. At the meeting, the Committees members accused him of being a counterrevolutionary. And when he still refused to support the new …

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