Maria Perez-De Vigil v. Jefferson Sessions, III

Case: 17-60325 Document: 00514458540 Page: 1 Date Filed: 05/04/2018 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT United States Court of Appeals No. 17-60325 Fifth Circuit FILED May 4, 2018 MARIA ESTERLINA PEREZ-DE VIGIL, Lyle W. Cayce Clerk Petitioner v. JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, U. S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals BIA No. A206 249 204 Before KING, HAYNES, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges. STEPHEN A. HIGGINSON, Circuit Judge:* Maria Perez-De Vigil petitions this court for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision. The BIA dismissed her appeal from the Immigration Judge’s (“IJ”) denial of her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). We grant in part and deny in part the petition for review, and remand to the BIA for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. * Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR. R. 47.5.4. Case: 17-60325 Document: 00514458540 Page: 2 Date Filed: 05/04/2018 No. 17-60325 I. Perez, a citizen of El Salvador and former police officer in her home town of Lolotique, was married to Jose Vigil for ten years. She suffered frequent abuse at Vigil’s hands, including rape, physical abuse, and death threats. After eight years, Perez moved out of the home she had shared with Vigil and into a nearby rental home. Vigil continued to threaten Perez—including by telephone and by waiting outside of her place of work—but never again physically abused her. Perez filed for divorce in 2013, and, after that, Vigil’s threats escalated. Vigil told Perez that he would not give her a divorce and that he would rather pay $40 to have her killed by a hitman than pay child support. Fearing for her life, Perez fled to the United States. In October 2013, she entered the country without a valid entry document. The following month, the Department of Homeland Security issued a Notice to Appear, charging that Perez was removable pursuant to § 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Perez applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under CAT. The IJ denied Perez’s application. The IJ found that Perez was credible, and that the harm she suffered rose to the level of persecution, but that she failed to establish that her persecution was based on membership in a particular social group. As is relevant here, the IJ concluded that one of her asserted social groups, “Salvadoran women in domestic relationship[s] who are unable to leave the relationship,” was not a cognizable group because it lacked immutability and that, in any event, Perez was not a member of that group because she was able to leave her relationship with Vigil by moving out of the home they had shared. The IJ also concluded that Perez was not a member of another asserted social group, “married ...

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