Maria Juan-Pedro v. Jefferson Sessions, III

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION File Name: 18a0324n.06 Case No. 17-3949 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT FILED Jun 29, 2018 DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk MARIA JUAN-PEDRO; DONY ALONZO- ) JUAN; ANGELA ALONZO-JUAN, ) ) Petitioners-Appellants, ) ON PETITION FOR REVIEW ) FROM THE UNITED STATES v. ) BOARD OF IMMIGRATION ) APPEALS JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, Attorney ) General, ) ) Respondent-Appellee. ) OPINION BEFORE: COLE, Chief Judge; CLAY and THAPAR, Circuit Judges. COLE, Chief Judge. Maria Juan-Pedro and two of her children petition for review of an order denying their application for asylum and withholding of removal. The United States Board of Immigration Appeals found that Juan-Pedro and her children failed to establish a nexus between a protected social group and the harm they suffered in Guatemala. But to find this, the Board gave short shrift to declarations and other record materials that make this connection. Because the Board’s finding is not based on substantial evidence, we grant the petition for review, vacate the Board’s order, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Case No. 17-3949, Juan-Pedro v. Sessions I. BACKGROUND Maria Juan-Pedro and two of her children fled their small Guatemalan village for the United States after a brutal attack by an MS-13 gang. MS-13 is an international crime gang that started in Los Angeles and spread around the United States and into Central America. Its tactics are best summed up by its motto: “rape, control, kill.” It carried out the first two prongs of its motto when six MS-13 members entered Juan-Pedro’s home with guns. They identified themselves as MS-13 members, pointed guns at Juan-Pedro and her two children, and demanded money. While three of the men searched for money, one raped Juan-Pedro, and the two remaining men held back her children. The gang members threatened to carry out the third prong of their motto when they told Juan-Pedro that they would kill her and her children and promised to return. Following the attack, Juan-Pedro took her children and traveled through Mexico to the United States, where they arrived four days later. They applied for asylum and withholding of removal based on race, membership in a particular social group, and under the Convention Against Torture. The petitioners are of Mayan ancestry, and their native language is Akatek, one of more than 20 Mayan-related languages spoken in Guatemala. Though one of Juan-Pedro’s children understands some Spanish, Guatemala’s official language, Juan-Pedro does not. In her asylum application, she explained that in “June 2014 MS-13 broke into my home with weapons. They threatened me & my children. They said they would come back & kidnap[] the children if I didn’t have more money. . . . They will kill us because we are [i]ndigenous.” Administrative Record, R. 6-2, PageID 272. Juan-Pedro and her children submitted declarations elaborating on these events, which the immigration judge admitted into evidence without objection from the government. In her -2- Case No. 17-3949, Juan-Pedro v. Sessions declaration, Juan Pedro ...

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