Reyes-Ramos v. Garland

United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit No. 18-1830 JOSE ANTONIO REYES-RAMOS, Petitioner, v. MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General,* Respondent. PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF AN IMMIGRATION JUDGE Before Barron, Chief Judge, Howard and Kayatta, Circuit Judges. Stephen A. Lagana for petitioner. Christina P. Greer, with whom Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Terri J. Scadron, Assistant Director, Office of Immigration Litigation, and Leslie McKay, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, were on brief, for respondent. January 13, 2023 * Pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 43(c)(2), Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has been substituted as the respondent. - 1 - HOWARD, Circuit Judge. In his petition for review of an immigration judge's (IJ) denial of his application for withholding of removal, Jose Antonio Reyes-Ramos argues that the IJ erred by concurring with an asylum officer's determination that Reyes did not have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture. Finding Reyes's arguments unpersuasive, we deny his petition. I. A native and citizen of El Salvador, Reyes entered the United States without inspection on three occasions. He first entered in 2005 and the next year was ordered removed in absentia, after he failed to appear for a hearing. After his eventual removal by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in June 2011, pursuant to the 2006 removal order, Reyes reentered the United States without inspection in September of the same year. He was apprehended the following month and DHS reinstated the 2006 removal order against him. After his October 2011 apprehension, Reyes initially expressed fear of persecution or torture if removed to El Salvador. However, he withdrew his request for a reasonable fear determination after being detained for two months, disclaiming his fear of returning to El Salvador and requesting removal. DHS removed Reyes in January 2012. Reyes subsequently reentered the United States for a third time without inspection on an unknown date. DHS apprehended him in April 2018 after he was arrested in Massachusetts for - 2 - committing a criminal offense. The agency reinstated his 2006 removal order for a second time, and Reyes again expressed fear of persecution or torture. During his subsequent reasonable fear interview with the asylum officer, Reyes stated that he feared returning to El Salvador because of the violence that he suffered at the hands of gangs that he refused to join. According to Reyes, MS-13 began recruiting him when he was 18 or 19 years old and serially terrorized him after he refused to join. They reportedly beat him to the point of unconsciousness the first time he refused, leaving permanent scars on his head. Reyes also said that, on another occasion, gang members shot him in the leg as he fled from them and threatened to kill him the next time they saw him. While Reyes was away from his family recovering from his wound, gang members allegedly told his mother that they would continually search for Reyes so that they …

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