Juan Salazar-Noriega v. Merrick Garland

NOT FOR PUBLICATION FILED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS JAN 19 2023 MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT JUAN MIGUEL SALAZAR-NORIEGA, Nos. 21-70618, 22-160 Petitioner, Agency No. A200-242-324 v. MEMORANDUM* MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General, Respondent. On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Submission Deferred March 8, 2022** Submitted January 18, 2023 Pasadena, California Before: FRIEDLAND and KOH, Circuit Judges, and KORMAN,*** District Judge. Juan Miguel Salazar-Noriega (“Salazar”), a native and citizen of Mexico, appeals from the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) decision affirming an * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. ** The panel unanimously concludes this case is suitable for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a)(2). *** The Honorable Edward R. Korman, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, sitting by designation. Immigration Judge’s (“IJ”) denial of his applications for asylum, withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3), protection under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”), cancellation of removal, and voluntary departure. Salazar also appeals the BIA’s decision to decline to sua sponte reopen his immigration proceedings. Having reviewed the relevant legal and constitutional questions de novo and the agency’s factual findings for substantial evidence, see Bringas- Rodriguez v. Sessions, 850 F.3d 1051, 1059 (9th Cir. 2017) (en banc), we deny Salazar’s petition. 1. The agency adequately addressed Salazar’s claim that his opposition to cartels qualified him for withholding of removal. Even if the IJ erred by not focusing specifically on this argument, the BIA expressly rejected it, noting that the record contained no evidence, aside from speculation, suggesting that Salazar held, expressed, or would be viewed as holding political opinions or religious beliefs opposed to cartels. Contrary to Salazar’s contention, the BIA may “conduct[] a de novo review and conclude[] that [a petitioner] did not” provide “evidence sufficient to establish” his claims. Singh v. Holder, 591 F.3d 1190, 1198 (9th Cir. 2010) (quotation marks omitted); see also Ghaly v. INS, 58 F.3d 1425, 1430 (9th Cir. 1995). The BIA’s rejection of Salazar’s political opinion- and religious belief-based opposition-to-cartels arguments also sufficed to reject his argument that he would 2 face persecution due to his membership in a social group consisting of Mexicans opposed to cartels. In observing that the record lacked evidence supporting Salazar’s religion and political opinion claims, the BIA effectively identified a fatal flaw with his Mexicans-opposed-to-cartels social group claim: Salazar provided no nonspeculative evidence that he would be identified as a member of such a group. See Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder, 707 F.3d 1081, 1093 (9th Cir. 2013) (en banc). 2. The agency correctly concluded that Salazar’s alleged status as an “individual[] returning to Mexico from the United States who [is] believed to be wealthy” does not qualify him for withholding of removal. Barbosa v. Barr, 926 F.3d 1053, 1059–60 (9th Cir. 2019) (quotation marks and alterations omitted). 3. Salazar’s membership in …

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