Judith Lemus-Coronado v. Merrick Garland

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 22-1015 ___________________________ Judith Mariela Lemus-Coronado; D.A.M.I. Petitioners v. Merrick B. Garland, Attorney General of the United States Respondent ____________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals ____________ Submitted: November 17, 2022 Filed: January 23, 2023 ____________ Before COLLOTON, SHEPHERD, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges. ____________ SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge. Judith Mariela Lemus-Coronado (Petitioner) and her daughter, D.A.M.I., natives and citizens of Guatemala, petition for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the immigration judge’s (IJ) decision finding Petitioner removable and denying her application for asylum and withholding of removal. Having jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252, we deny the petition. I. Prior to arriving in the United States, Petitioner lived in Guatemala. She was very close to her partner’s brother, Wilvy Interiano-Erazo, who helped the couple after the birth of their daughter. Interiano-Erazo was the private driver for the then- mayor of their town, who was known to be an “anti-crime/anti-corruption politician” and disfavored among drug traffickers and criminal organizations. Interiano-Erazo likewise had political aspirations, hoping to become the next mayor on a similar “anti-narco” platform. On November 21, 2013, Interiano-Erazo invited Petitioner to his house; he had things he wished to give to his niece. While the two were outside of Interiano-Erazo’s home, three men—whom Petitioner believed to be drug traffickers—arrived on the scene armed with high-caliber weapons. After one man shot Interiano-Erazo, another stated that because Interiano-Erazo “did not support them[,] they were going to kill him.” Then, the men shot Interiano-Erazo several more times. Petitioner was next to Interiano-Erazo throughout the altercation. The men told Petitioner that “she did not have to tell anyone what she had seen and [that] it was best if she stayed quiet.” Interiano-Erazo died from his injuries before he arrived at the hospital. Two weeks after the incident, Petitioner received text messages that she should not tell anyone about Interiano-Erazo’s murder or there would be consequences. The text messages also threatened harm to her daughter. Petitioner then filed a police report recounting the murder and the text messages. Law enforcement accepted the police report, but the record does not indicate whether any further investigation occurred. Petitioner subsequently received more threats; she believed that law enforcement told the drug traffickers about the report. Though she was never physically harmed, Petitioner claimed that she suffered psychological harm as a result of the murder and threats. Petitioner departed Guatemala on June 6, 2014, and entered the United States on July 6, 2014. She allegedly requested asylum upon her arrival but was never -2- instructed to file an application within the one-year deadline. As a result, she filed her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) four years later, listing her daughter as a derivative applicant. Petitioner alleged persecution on account of her membership in two particular social groups (PSG)—witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement and nuclear family members of …

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