Lopez-Lopez v. Sessions

United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit No. 17-1907 RONY LOPEZ-LOPEZ, Petitioner, v. JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent. PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS Before Lynch, Circuit Judge, Souter, Associate Justice,* and Kayatta, Circuit Judge. Kevin P. MacMurray, Daniel W. Chin, and MacMurray & Associates on brief for petitioner. David Kim, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Chad A. Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General, and Kohsei Ugumori, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, on brief for respondent. * Hon. David H. Souter, Associate Justice (Ret.) of the Supreme Court of the United States, sitting by designation. March 16, 2018 LYNCH, Circuit Judge. We deny Rony Lopez-Lopez's petition for review because there was substantial evidence before the IJ and BIA that Lopez-Lopez had failed to meet his burden to establish a nexus between his alleged persecution and a statutorily protected ground. In April 2013, the Department of Homeland Security served Lopez-Lopez, a native and citizen of Guatemala, with a notice to appear, charging that he was removable pursuant to 8 U.S.C. ยง 1182(a)(6)(A)(i) because he had entered the United States without inspection on an unknown date; Lopez-Lopez later testified that he had entered in January 2007. Lopez-Lopez filed an application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT") in March 2015. The immigration judge ("IJ") excused the late filing of Lopez-Lopez's application, and addressed and denied it on its merits. Lopez-Lopez claimed that his basis for relief was that drug traffickers had moved into his village in Guatemala in 2006, taken over his family's land, and used threats of violence to coerce him and his family members into cultivating raw materials for drugs on that land. Lopez-Lopez also testified that three of his siblings remained unharmed in Guatemala because they did what the drug traffickers asked them to do. He alleged that he had been persecuted, and that the persecution was because he belonged to a "particular social group" of "poor, uneducated landowners." - 3 - The IJ denied Lopez-Lopez's application, holding that his claimed social group was "not a protected ground under the [Immigration and Nationality Act]" and that, in any case, Lopez- Lopez had not established a nexus between his alleged persecution, or fear of future persecution, and any protected ground. The IJ also held that, even if Lopez-Lopez had established that he had been targeted on the basis of a protected ground, he had failed to show government action or inaction necessary to establish past persecution because "there was no evidence that any Guatemalan authorities on any level were notified of the situation."1 On appeal, the BIA agreed with the IJ's conclusion that Lopez-Lopez had not "establish[ed] that any persecution he ha[d] suffered or fears was or is on account of a protected ground." The BIA held that, even assuming that Lopez-Lopez had established a "cognizable particular social group" of "poor, uneducated landowners in Guatemala," he ...

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