Victor Blanco-Santa Maria v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION File Name: 17a0690n.06 No. 17-3332 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT FILED VICTOR MANUEL BLANCO-SANTA ) Dec 14, 2017 MARIA, ) DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk ) Petitioner, ) ON PETITION FOR REVIEW ) FROM THE UNITED STATES v. ) BOARD OF IMMIGRATION ) APPEALS JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, U.S. ) Attorney General, ) ) Respondent. ) BEFORE: BATCHELDER, GRIFFIN, and WHITE, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM. Victor Manuel Blanco-Santa Maria, a native and citizen of El Salvador, petitions this court for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing his appeal from the denial of his asylum application. For the reasons set forth below, we deny the petition for review. Blanco-Santa Maria entered the United States near Progreso, Texas, on April 7, 2014, when he was seventeen years old. (AR 665). The Department of Homeland Security took Blanco-Santa Maria into custody and served him with a notice to appear in removal proceedings, charging him with removability as an alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled. (AR 665-67). See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Blanco-Santa Maria appeared before an immigration judge (IJ) and conceded removability as charged. (AR 154). The IJ continued the proceedings to allow Blanco-Santa Maria, an unaccompanied alien child, to file an asylum application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). (AR 154-56). No. 17-3332 Blanco-Santa Maria v. Sessions See 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(3)(C). Following an interview with an asylum officer (AR 231-35), the USCIS determined that Blanco-Santa Maria did not meet the requirements for asylum and returned his case to the IJ. (AR 577-78). Blanco-Santa Maria subsequently submitted an amended application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) on the basis that gang members in El Salvador mistreated him because of his political opinion and membership in a particular social group. (AR 410-21). At the hearing on his application, Blanco-Santa Maria defined his particular social group as “young male El Salvadoran students who wish to pursue professional careers[,] oppose gang practices[,] believe in the rule of law[,] . . . [a]nd oppose crime and violence.” (AR 170, 617). As for his political opinion, Blanco-Santa Maria described himself as an “anti-gang dissident abiding by law and opposing crime and violence.” (AR 170). Blanco-Santa Maria testified that a member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) gang first approached him when he was in ninth grade in Morazan. (AR 181). The gang member followed Blanco-Santa Maria as he walked home from school and asked him to join the gang. (AR 182). When Blanco-Santa Maria said that he did not want to be a part of the gang, the gang member became angry. (AR 182). The same gang member approached Blanco-Santa Maria three or four more times about joining the gang and, when Blanco-Santa Maria refused, told him that they were going to kill him if he did not join. (AR 182-83). Blanco-Santa Maria testified that he moved to San ...

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