WENDY CAROLINA SOSA-PEREZ, CHRISTHIAN JASSELL DIAZ-SOSA, EMIR FABRIZIO DIAZ-SOSA, Petitioners,
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, Respondent.
FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS
N. Firicano, with whom Sheri F. Murray was on brief, for
Juarez, Office of Immigration Litigation, with whom Melissa
K. Lott, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation,
Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Chad A.
Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division,
and M. Jocelyn Lopez Wright, Senior Litigation Counsel,
Office of Immigration Litigation, were on brief, for
Barron, Selya, and Stahl, Circuit Judges.
BARRON, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Sosa-Perez (Sosa), a Honduran national, petitions for review
of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) dismissal of
her appeal from the denial of her application for asylum and
withholding of removal for herself and, derivatively, her two
minor children. She does so on the basis of the violent
attack that she claimed to have suffered in that country in
2013 and the numerous violent attacks that she claimed other
members of her family suffered over the course of more than
three decades. Given the deference that we owe the BIA's
factual findings, we deny the petition for review.
first review the basic legal background. We then describe the
facts relevant to the issues before us, as well as the
BIA's ruling and the ruling by the Immigration Judge
(IJ), which the BIA adopted.
eligible for asylum, an applicant bears the burden of proving
by a preponderance of the evidence that she is "unable
or unwilling to return to" her home country because she
has a "well-founded fear of persecution." 8 U.S.C.
§ 1101(a)(42)(A); 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i). If
the applicant can show that she has faced persecution in the
past, then she has established a "rebuttable presumption
of a well-founded fear of future persecution."
Harutyunyan v. Gonzales, 421 F.3d
64, 67 (1st Cir. 2005). Unless that presumption is overcome,
the applicant's past persecution supplies the basis for
finding that she has a well-founded fear of persecution and
is potentially eligible for asylum. Id.
applicant fails to demonstrate that she has faced past
persecution, she may still demonstrate a well-founded fear of
future persecution in either of two ways. She may demonstrate
that she has a genuine and objectively reasonable fear of
suffering individualized persecution in the future, or she
may "demonstrat[e] 'a pattern or practice in his or
her country of nationality . . . of persecution of a group of
persons similarly situated to the applicant on account
of' a protected ground." Decky v.
Holder, 587 F.3d 104, 112 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting 8
C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(2)(iii)(A)).
is no precise definition of "persecution, " but it
must "add up to more than mere discomfiture,
unpleasantness, harassment, or unfair treatment."
Nikijuluw v. Gonzales, 427 F.3d
115, 120 (1st Cir. 2005). In addition, the asylum seeker must
show that the persecution has a "nexus" to one of
the statutorily enumerated protected grounds, such as
membership in a "social group, " like a nuclear
family. Guerra-Marchorro v.
Holder, 760 F.3d 126, 128 (1st Cir. 2014); 8 U.S.C.
§ 1101(a)(42); see also Ruiz
v. Mukasey, 526 F.3d 31, 38 (1st Cir. 2008)
("Kinship can be a sufficiently permanent and distinct
characteristic to serve as the linchpin for a protected
social group within the purview of the asylum
laws."). Finally, the asylum seeker
must also show that the harm is attributable to the action or
inaction of the government of her home country.
Morales-Morales v. Sessions, 857
F.3d 130, 135 (1st Cir. 2017).
an asylum applicant is not eligible for asylum, she still may
be entitled to receive what is known as withholding of
removal, which provides her protection from being removed
from the United States without offering all of the other
benefits that come with receiving asylum. 8 U.S.C. §
1231(b)(3)(A); Soeung v. Holder,
677 F.3d 484, 487 (1st Cir. 2012) (explaining difference
between asylum and withholding of removal). To be eligible
for withholding of removal, however, the applicant must prove
by a "clear probability, " Lopez Perez
v. Holder, 587 F.3d 456, 463 (1st Cir.
2009), that her "life or freedom would be threatened in
[the country to which she would be removed] because of [her]
race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular
social group, or political opinion" if she were returned
there. 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A);
Sessions, 861 F.3d 7, 8 (1st Cir. 2017). Because the
"clear probability" standard is more onerous than
the "well-founded fear" standard, an alien who
fails to meet the asylum standard will necessarily fail to
meet the withholding of removal standard.
Amilcar-Orellana v. Mukasey, 551
F.3d 86, 92 (1st Cir. 2008).
and her two children, Christhian and Emir Diaz-Sosa, were
apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security while
entering the United States without inspection on June 14,
2014. They conceded their removability, and Sosa thereafter
submitted a timely application for both asylum and
withholding of removal. Sosa listed Christhian and Emir as
derivative applicants on her asylum and withholding of
removal proceedings before the IJ, Sosa testified and
submitted a declaration in support of her applications for
asylum and withholding of removal. Through that evidence, she
described that she had been the victim of a violent attack in
2013, while she was living in Honduras. Specifically, she
stated in her declaration and testimony that she was
"robbed at knife point" in that incident and that
this robbery came after she had been "receiving
threatening calls from the local gangs, " which she
described in her declaration as having been made
"anonymously" and as containing threats "to
kill her and her sons if she did not pay [the callers]
money." In her testimony regarding that 2013 incident,
Sosa further explained that the robbers
"manhandled" her and "wanted to rape [her],
but . . . somebody else showed up. [She] was . . . spared
that . . . and [she] got home very nervous, but nothing
her evidence at the removal proceeding, Sosa also recounted
the history of violent incidents that a number of her family
members -- including a great uncle, two uncles, a grandmother
(who was threatened with a machete), an ...