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Ruiz-Cabrera v Holder

Case No. 13-2939 (C.A. 7, Apr. 8, 2014)

Petitioner Benjamin Ruiz-Cabrera is a Mexican citizen who fears harm from his physically abusive and politically active wife back in Mexico. He challenges the denial of his applications for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture. He maintains that his wife and her political allies will target him for persecution based on his proposed particular social group: “persons who face persecution by corrupt governmental and law enforcement authorities instigated by a politically connected spouse.” He also asserts he will be persecuted for imputed political opinions in opposition to or in support of his wife’s political party.

We deny Ruiz-Cabrera’s petition. The Board of Immigration Appeals did not err by finding that he failed to identify a valid “particular social group” within the meaning of the statutes authorizing asylum and withholding of removal. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A) (defining “refugee”), § 1158(b)(1)(A) (authorizing asylum); § 1231(b)(3)(A) (requiring withholding of removal if alien’s “life or freedom would be threatened in that country because of the alien’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”). In addition, substantial evidence supports the Board’s determinations that Ruiz-Cabrera did not show imputed political opinion or a likelihood of torture.

I. Factual and Procedural Background



Ruiz-Cabrera entered the United States without inspection (i.e., unlawfully) in 2001. He came to the attention of immigration authorities in 2009 after an arrest. He conceded removability, but he applied for withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1231 saying that he feared returning to Mexico because of threats and mistreatment by his wife, who holds a local office as a member of Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Ruiz-Cabrera stated in his application that he feared his wife would “use her political influence to have people close to her cause me harm, including torture at the hands of Mexican law enforcement.” He sought relief based on imputed political opinion (opposition to the PRD) and membership in a particular social group, which he defined as “individuals who face persecution by corrupt governmental and law enforcement authorities instigated by a politically connected spouse.” He also applied for protection under the Convention Against Torture. See 8 C.F.R. § 1208.16(c).
 

 

Judge(s): David Hamilton
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Circuit Court Judge(s)
Frank Easterbrook
David Hamilton
Daniel Manion

 

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Click the maroon box above for a formatted PDF of the decision.
petition for review of an order of had ever followed through on her threats. the board of though, leaving behind his sons—then ages 10, 9, and 5. he had begun dating in 1989, had three sons over the next seven immutable or is so fundamental to individual identity or judges. immigration appeals has limited the concept to groups whose failed to identify any other shared characteristic. moreover, no. 13-2939 3 of removal if alien’s “life or freedom would be threatened in against torture. see 8 c.f.r. § 1208.16(c). upheld the immigration judge’s conclusion that he had not wife would “use her political influence to have people close to him for persecution based on his proposed particular social v. we deny ruiz-cabrera’s petition. the board of immi- themeaning oftheflexiblestatutory term“particular social challenges the denial of his applications for withholding of with respect to his claim for protection under the the immigration judge and board did not err by rejecting attorney general of the united states, jurisdiction under 8 u.s.c. § 1252 to review the decision. that he agreed to marry his wife in 2000 “to keep [his] children eight-month return to mexico, police detained him based on conscience that a person ought not be required to change. he maintains that his wife and her political allies will target did not identify a shared characteristic aside from persecution. determinations that ruiz-cabrera did not show imputed politicallyconnectedspouses—share the characteristicof being had not told his wife or children of his plans. when he called — f.3d —, —, 2014 wl 806954, at *6 (7th cir. march 3, 2014); argued march 5, 2014 — decided april 8, 2014 bathula v. holder, 723 f.3d 889, 903–05 (7th cir. 2013); margos v. him at his wife’s behest. the officer attempted to plant cocaine membership is defined by a characteristic that is either had not been injured and he had failed to show that his wife board’s conclusion that his wife tried to hurt him out of be imputed to him: first, prd politicians see him as anti-prd 2013); mema v. gonzales, 474 f.3d 412, 416 (7th cir. 2007). we eric h. holder, jr., limited its review, and substantial evidence supports the that basis. the immigration judge found ruiz-cabrera’s testimony local office as a member of party of the democratic revolution on the basis of imputed political opinion. he seems to suggest (i.e., unlawfully) in 2001. he came to the attention of 2 no. 13-2939 hamilton,circuit judge.petitioner benjamin ruiz-cabrera no. 13-2939 (and corroborating telephonic testimony from his mother and enforcement authorities instigated by a politically connected united states court of appeals petition denied. i. factual and procedural background two encounters in 2002 with mexican police. first, during an traffickers will “mistake his wife’s involvement in politics for politicians are likely to connect him to his wife’s politics or to group: “persons who face persecution by corrupt the judge also found that ruiz-cabrera had not shown that he thejudgethen explainedthat ruiz-cabrera hadnotoffered no. 13-2939 7 judge’s order with its own written opinion. we have members is that they face persecution. though a social group her cause me harm, including torture at the hands of mexican ruiz-cabrera has framed the question, marriage is his 8 u.s.c. § 1231 saying that he feared returning to mexico § 1252(a)(2)(d); sirbu v. holder, 718 f.3d 655, 658–60 (7th cir. would be harmed based on his membership in that group. removalandprotection undertheconventionagainsttorture. to the persecutor,” cece v. holder, 733 f.3d 662, 671 (7th cir. where the board has adopted the decision of the 441 (bia 1987). under the principles of chevron, u.s.a., inc. v. years, and married in 2000. ruiz-cabrera testified that politicalconnectionsto harmhim,ruiz-cabrera testifiedabout be imputed to him based on his wife’s politics. it is not enough any political opinion to him. finally the judge concluded that (throwing stones and other objects at him) and twice urged the board of immigration appeals. in mexico. nothing in the record indicates that traffickers or ruiz-cabrera next asserts that the board and immigration statutes authorizing asylum and withholding of removal. see must affirm the decision if it is supported by reasonable, substantial evidence supports the immigration judge’s and his own support for the government” and will target him on pulled over by a police officer who he believed was trailing brother in mexico city) to be credible but still denied his ruiz-cabrera contends that his proposed group is a. “particular social group” spouse.” he also applied for protection under the convention impute that opinion to him. see n.l.a. v. holder, no. 11-2706, judge misinterpreted his claim that he would face persecution target him for those reasons. governmental and law enforcement authorities instigated by torture as “an extreme form of cruel and inhuman treatment”); (1984), we defer to the board’s interpretation of the statute. petitioner, removal under 8 u.s.c. § 1231(b)(3). shared by all members of the proposed group. ruiz-cabrera immigration appeals adopted and affirmed the immigration matter of acosta, 19 i. & n. dec. 211, 233–34 (1985), overruled in examined him. he was released later that day only after his persecuted for imputed political opinions in opposition to or must be linked by something more than persecution. law enforcement.” he sought relief based on imputed political 1996 or 1997 when someone fired two shots at him. he believes characteristic. 6 no. 13-2939 wife dropped the charges. a few weeks later, his car was natural resources defense council, inc., 467 u.s. 837, 842–43 political opinion or a likelihood of torture. relationship to his alleged persecutor, not a characteristic particular social group, which he defined as “individuals who before easterbrook, manion, and hamilton, circuit gration appeals did not err by finding that he failed to identify failedto substantiate his claim that any political opinion would rather, said the judge, his wife targeted him in “a personal for the seventh circuit in his pocket but let him go only after he paid a small bribe. that two different and opposing types of political opinion will evidence ruiz-cabrera supplied on this theory was general immigration judge and added its own reasoning, we review opinion (opposition to the prd) and membership in a convention against torture, ruiz-cabrera contends that the a politically connected spouse.” he also asserts he will be immigration authorities in 2009 after an arrest. he conceded both decisions. pouhova v. holder, 726 f.3d 1007, 1011 (7th cir. (authorizing asylum); § 1231(b)(3)(a) (requiring withholding applications for relief. the judge concluded first that married. he asserts that the identity of one’s spouse (or in the to show that a family member holds a political opinion. 2013) (en banc); see also escobar, 657 f.3d at 545–46, the group removability, but he applied for withholding of removal under his wife’s false accusation that he had groped her. the police 8 no. 13-2939 4 no. 13-2939 accordingly, the board and immigration judge did not err see escobar v. holder, 657 f.3d 537, 542 (7th cir. 2011); lwin v. his wife accused him of having an affair. ruiz-cabrera said ruiz-cabrerahadnot proposedavalidsocialgroupbecausehe this proposed group. the common characteristic shared by its 8 u.s.c. § 1101(a)(42)(a) (defining “refugee”), § 1158(b)(1)(a) hassan v. holder, 571 f.3d 631, 641–42 (7th cir. 2009); sankoh v. backgroundevidenceofdrug violenceandpoliticalcorruption ruiz-cabrera entered the united states without inspection that country because of the alien’s race, religion, nationality, in support of his wife’s political party. part on other grounds, matter of mogharrabi, 19 i. & n. dec. 439, (prd). ruiz-cabrera stated in his application that he feared his b. imputed political opinion her from the united states, she threatened to have him ruiz-cabreraalsomustshowthat analleged persecutor would board erroneously limited its review to factual error when it a089-276-407 respondent. 105 f.3d 374, 380 (7th cir. 1997); see wang v. gonzales, 445 f.3d vendetta.” any evidence to showthat an alleged persecutor would impute as a whole, and we may overturn it only if the record compels group” is not self-evident from the statutory text. the board of 993, 998 (7th cir. 2006). ruiz-cabrera is not entitled to does not “require[]complete independenceof anyrelationship see jonaitiene v. holder, 660 f.3d 267, 271–72 (7th cir. 2011). as substantial, and probative evidence on the record considered because of his bad relationship with his wife, but second, drug gonzales, 443 f.3d 593, 600 (7th cir. 2006). is a mexican citizen who fears harm from his physically c. convention against torture 632 (7th cir. 2011), or there has been a legal error, 8 u.s.c. immigration judge’s conclusion that ruiz-cabrera did not mukasey, 539 f.3d 456, 471–72 (7th cir. 2008). the only 2013); asani v. ins, 154 f.3d 719, 722–23 (7th cir. 1998). shown a likelihood that he would suffer harm constituting ruiz-cabrera couldnotshowalikelihood oftorture becausehe recounted experiences that led him to fear his wife. the two torture. nothing in the decision suggests that the board so by denying ruiz-cabrera’s application for withholding of men to fight him, publicly asserting that he had abused her. ruiz-cabrera singled out a particularly frightening incident in no. 13-2939 5 abusive and politically active wife back in mexico. he extradited back to mexico. 502 u.s. 478, 481 & n.1 (1992); abraham v. holder, 647 f.3d 626, case of divorce one’s former spouse) is an immutable had him stand naked for five minutes while they visually to substantiate his fears that his wife would use her membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”). cannot support an alien’s claim of asylum.” marquez v. ins, ins, 144 f.3d 505, 511–12 (7th cir. 1998). personal animosity. “a personal dispute, no matter how nasty, withholding of removal based on persecution of a particular in addition, substantial evidence supports the board’s a valid “particular social group” within the meaning of the theimmigrationjudgereasonablyfoundthat ruiz-cabrera a contrary result, 8 u.s.c. § 1252(b)(4)(b); ins v. elias-zacarias, the definition of torture. see 8 c.f.r. § 1208.18(a)(2) (defining at his hearing before an immigration judge, ruiz-cabrera social group. the shots were fired by the brother of a neighbor with whom in the though he was able to defuse those confrontations, because of threats and mistreatment by his wife, who holds a secure.” he entered the united states illegally a year later, ii. analysis cognizable because its members—people who fear harm from show that he would likely suffer harm so barbaric that it met benjamin carlos ruiz-cabrera, throughout the 1990s, his wife would often become violent face persecution by corrupt governmental and law


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