Salvador Gutierrez-Vargas v. Merrick B. Garland

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 21-3520 ___________________________ Salvador Gutierrez-Vargas lllllllllllllllllllllPetitioner v. Merrick B. Garland, Attorney General of the United States lllllllllllllllllllllRespondent ____________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals ____________ Submitted: May 11, 2022 Filed: August 1, 2022 ____________ Before COLLOTON, WOLLMAN, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges. ____________ WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge. Salvador Gutierrez-Vargas petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (BIA) denial of his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and deferral of removal. We deny the petition. I. Background Gutierrez-Vargas, a native and citizen of Mexico, entered the United States without inspection in 1979. One evening in June 2013, Gutierrez-Vargas and his family returned home to find that his daughter’s boyfriend, Milton Miranda, had murdered a man in their house. To prevent Gutierrez-Vargas from calling the police, Miranda took his phone and threatened to kill his family. He then told Gutierrez- Vargas to help him bury the body. The two men moved the victim’s body to the back of the house, where Miranda, using Gutierrez-Vargas’s tools, dismembered the body while Gutierrez-Vargas dug a hole in the backyard. With Gutierrez-Vargas’s daughter’s help, they put the body parts into garbage bags, which they then buried in the hole. Gutierrez-Vargas was arrested in August 2013 after his daughter told police about the murder and the location of the body. He was held in custody in Illinois until his state court conviction in 2018 of dismembering a human body in violation of 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/12-20.5 and concealing a homicidal death in violation of 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/9-3.4(a), for which he was sentenced to 15 years’ and 5 years’ imprisonment respectively. He was released from custody in February 2021, at which time the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against him under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182(a)(6)(A)(i) and 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). Gutierrez- Vargas admitted removability but applied for asylum under Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), withholding of removal under INA Section 241(b)(3), and withholding and deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), 8 C.F.R. §§ 1208.16 and 1208.17. During a removal hearing, Gutierrez-Vargas testified that Miranda had told him and his daughter that he was a member of the Zetas, a criminal gang, and that Miranda had carved a “Z” into the victim’s face. Gutierrez-Vargas testified that the -2- Zetas have members “all over,” including in his home state in Mexico, but he did not know whether Miranda had close personal relationships there. He expressed fear that if he returned to Mexico, members of the Zetas or other friends of Miranda would harm him and his family. Gutierrez-Vargas explained that prior to his arrest, an unknown man had stopped his wife while she was running in the park and, after mentioning Miranda, had told her that “they [were] watching [the family].” Once Gutierrez-Vargas was in jail, he was also approached by men claiming to be Miranda’s friends, who told him that “they knew …

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