Jonathan Vanegas Torres v. Jefferson Sessions, III

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION File Name: 18a0242n.06 No. 17-3777 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FILED FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT May 15, 2018 DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk JONATHAN JIMMY VANEGAS TORRES, ) ) Petitioner, ) ) ON PETITION FOR REVIEW v. ) FROM THE UNITED STATES ) BOARD OF IMMIGRATION JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, Attorney General, ) APPEALS ) Respondent. ) OPINION ) BEFORE: GIBBONS, BUSH, and LARSEN, Circuit Judges. JOHN K. BUSH, Circuit Judge. Jonathan Jimmy Vanegas Torres, a thirty-four-year- old native and citizen of Mexico, sought asylum and withholding of removal under both the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) and the Convention Against Torture. He claims eligibility for these protections against deportation based on a likelihood of his being tortured upon his return to Mexico or persecuted by the Knights Templar, a Mexican gang, because of his membership in a particular social group. But he defines his proposed group only by its suffering persecution at the hands of the Knights Templar based on circumstances similar to his own. This definition is impermissibly circular and lacks social distinction. So his asylum and INA withholding applications fail. And because he offers insufficient evidence of his likely torture in Mexico with the government’s acquiescence, his application for protection under the Convention Against Torture fails as well. We therefore deny his petition for review. No. 17-3777, Vanegas Torres v. Sessions I Vanegas Torres claims that he was apprehended by the Knights Templar in March 2015. They drove him around in a van, roughed him up, and demanded 50,000 pesos from him with a 10-day deadline. They threatened to kill him and his family if he did not pay. So Vanegas Torres trekked north to the border and presented himself to authorities there. This was a familiar endeavor to Vanegas Torres: he previously had entered or attempted to enter the United States illegally on eight occasions since January 2003. He appeared before an immigration judge in December 2016. He argued that he faced persecution because of his membership in a particular social group: “Mexican nationals who were kidnapped and beaten by Knights Templar Cartel who will be targeted for violence by Knights Templar because they fled Mexico because they were unable to meet extortion demands.” The judge first found that Vanegas Torres’s testimony was inconsistent with documentary evidence and thus was not credible. The judge also found that the testimony of Vanegas Torres’s wife relied only on assertions by Vanegas Torres, so it too was not credible. At any rate, the judge then held that the definition of Vanegas Torres’s alleged particular social group was impermissibly circular and found that the group lacked social distinction. So the judge found that Vanegas Torres had failed to prove eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal under the INA. The judge also found that Vanegas Torres had failed to establish his likely torture with the acquiescence of the Mexican government. The judge then denied Vanegas Torres’s applications for relief. On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) ...

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