PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION
D. Asher, with whom Megan McEntee, David C. Soutter, and
Ropes & Gray LLP were on brief for petitioner.
Jennifer A. Singer, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of
Justice, Civil Division, Office of Immigration Litigation,
with whom Kristen A. Giuffreda, Trial Attorney, Joseph H.
Hunt, Assistant Attorney General, and Shelley R. Goad,
Assistant Director, were on brief for respondent.
Lynch, Lipez, and Thompson, Circuit Judges.
Eleazar Enamorado-Rodriguez ("Enamorado"), a
Honduran national, came to the United States at age fifteen
and sought asylum, withholding of removal, and protection
under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT"). He
asserted he had experienced past persecution on account of a
protected ground, his membership in his mother's nuclear
family, and would face future persecution.
the Immigration Judge ("IJ") found that
Enamorado's testimony was credible, and that the abuse
Enamorado suffered had indeed amounted to persecution, the IJ
denied asylum relief. He held that Enamorado had not met his
burden to show the required nexus. The BIA affirmed, saying
in part that Enamorado had failed to submit corroborative
vacate the BIA's decision denying asylum and withholding
of removal as to Enamorado's family membership
persecution claim for relief, deny the relief Enamorado
sought on alternate particular social group ("PSG")
theories and for CAT relief, and remand the matter for
proceedings on Enamorado's family membership persecution
claim, consistent with this opinion.
describe first those facts relevant to our conclusion there
was legal error. Facts pertinent to our rejection of
Enamorado's challenges to other claims are recited with
the analyses of those claims.
was born on January 22, 2000, in El Capuline, a small,
isolated, mountainous village in the municipality of Santa
Barbara, Honduras. According to the uncontradicted
declaration of Enamorado's mother, Ruth Azucena Rodriguez
Acosta, his father, Eleazar Enamorado Alberto, was addicted
to drugs and physically abused her, including while she was
pregnant with Enamorado. Days after Enamorado's birth,
his father slapped his mother in front of his father's
sister, who told Eleazar that he had to leave the family
home. Eleazar did. Enamorado's mother then did not hear
from his father for seven months. His mother then moved to
San Pedro Sula with Enamorado so that she could live with her
father eventually came to San Pedro Sula, and when, after six
months, his mother "decided to get back together with
him," they rented a room together. Within a month,
Enamorado's father resumed physically abusing his mother.
His mother "was never able to tell anyone how" his
father abused her and did not believe the police would take
action if she reported his abuse. She eventually began to
work in a clothes factory, and Enamorado's paternal
grandmother, who then lived in San Pedro Sula, watched
Enamorado while his mother worked. When Enamorado's
grandmother decided to move back to El Capuline, she took
Enamorado with her, and Enamorado's mother thereafter
visited him and her other child, Enamorado's sister, in
El Capuline on weekends. Enamorado's father accompanied
her only occasionally.
Enamorado was four, he and his sister moved again to live
with their parents in San Pedro Sula so that his sister could
start school. His father continued to use drugs and
physically abuse Enamorado's mother and both children.
Eleazar then took Enamorado back to his father's parents
in El Capuline and did not allow Enamorado's mother to
visit or retrieve him.
Enamorado was about six, his father tried to choke his mother
in their home while their daughter watched. His mother told
his father "to get out of the house," and the
father then left Honduras for Mexico. His father told his own
parents not to return Enamorado to his mother. Eleazar
continued to threaten and harass Enamorado's mother by
telephone, including threats to kill her. In fear,
Enamorado's mother immediately fled Honduras for the
United States without her children. She left her daughter
with her cousin in San Pedro Sula. Her son, petitioner,
remained with his grandparents in El Capuline.
about age six to age ten, Enamorado remained with his
father's parents in El Capuline in a house made of dirt
and stone, with no telephone or electricity. Both of his
grandparents "talked very bad" about his mother.
They told Enamorado that his mother had left Honduras because
she did not love him and that Enamorado's maternal
grandmother had caused his parents' separation.
Enamorado's grandfather told him that his mother did not
really love him because she had not come to say goodbye to
him before leaving Honduras.
grandparents went well beyond his father's instruction
not to return Enamorado to his mother or allow her to visit,
refusing to allow him to see or speak to anyone in his
mother's family. Enamorado's sister was then living
with Eleazar's sister in another nearby town. When
Enamorado asked his sister about their father, she started
crying and said that their father had abused her.
this period, Enamorado's grandparents physically and
verbally abused him. On many occasions, his grandmother used
a stick and rope to hit him, including on his back and his
legs. His grandmother did not treat anyone else this way. His
grandfather beat Enamorado with ropes used to tie horses, a
water-soaked belt, or the straps of a horse saddle, and once
threatened to hit Enamorado with the flat of a machete. His
grandfather also verbally insulted Enamorado, calling him
"stupid" and specifically referring to
Enamorado's mother by calling Enamorado "son of a
whore." Because of the distance between homes in El
Capuline, neighbors were unaware of the abuse. The nearest
police station was too far for Enamorado to travel to, and he
believed the police would do nothing. Enamorado reported the
abuse to his teachers but they did nothing.
asked at the hearing why his life with his grandparents was
"very bad," Enamorado testified that both his
grandparents "mistreated [him] a lot because they hated
[his] mother very much." His grandmother hit him because
"she hated [his] mother very much." He added that
his grandfather mistreated him because "he was going to
raise [Enamorado] up whichever way he wanted, the same way he
was raised, and he would tell [Enamorado] that [he had] to
become a man." The government did not cross-examine
Enamorado about his grandparents' motivations in abusing
grandfather eventually left El Capuline and did not return,
leaving Enamorado alone with his grandmother. When Enamorado
was nine or ten, his grandmother also eventually left,
leaving Enamorado alone in El Capuline. His sister was living
with their paternal aunt, about ninety minutes away on foot,
and Enamorado could only visit infrequently. When he did, his
aunt did not offer to take care of him. Enamorado did not try
to leave El Capuline because his grandparents had told him to
watch the house and because he lacked means to travel. He
went hungry, had few clothes, and became very sick, including
with dengue fever. He could not travel to the health clinic.
When he was twelve or thirteen, Enamorado attempted suicide
because of his sadness and loneliness, but his sister came to
El Capuline and found him in time to prevent his death.
grandmother eventually returned to El Capuline. The house had
been robbed during her absence, for which she blamed
Enamorado and beat him. Enamorado began working, helping
cousins in the fields.
abuse was also committed by other members of Enamorado's
father's family. Enamorado worked with a paternal cousin
who often insulted him and his mother, calling him a
"son of a whore." His cousin once threw a machete
at Enamorado's hand, causing a deep cut.
grandmother eventually left El Capuline again. When he was
fifteen, Enamorado moved to San Pedro Sula to live with his
sister and her partner. Men on the street threated Enamorado
with a weapon, asked him for money, and told him they could
make him disappear. Enamorado also learned that the MS-13
gang had killed his paternal cousin, heightening his fear
that he was in danger. Enamorado decided to go to the United
entered the United States on July 13, 2015, near Hidalgo,
Texas, was detained by immigration officials, and was
released to live in East Boston with his mother,
step-siblings, and half-siblings.
February 28, 2018, Department of Homeland Security
Investigations ("HSI") Gang Strike Force agents
took Enamorado into custody because of his alleged
association with MS-13 street gang members. In Immigration
Court in Boston, Enamorado conceded through counsel that he
was removable and sought asylum, withholding of removal, and
protection under the CAT.
Denial of Asylum Based on Family Relationship
the IJ had "some concerns regarding [Enamorado's]
denials that he may be a gang member," he
"ultimately . . . found [Enamorado] credible with
respect to his claims of past harm in Honduras and the claim
of future harm." The IJ also found that "the
frequency of the beatings by [Enamorado's] paternal
grandparents, . . . the deprivation of food and medical help
for [Enamorado] as a young child, [and] the abandonment of
[Enamorado] by both his ...