CA7 on Social Group; Mexico; Honest Police: R.R.D. v. Holder

"While R.R.D. was an investigator for Mexico’s Federal Agency of Investigation, he arrested hundreds of suspects and repeatedly testified against drug traffickers. Drug organizations offered bribes to get him out of their hair and, when he refused, tried to kill him under their “plata o plomo” policy—“silver or lead,” colloquially “money or bullets.” The Agency repeatedly transferred him to places where it thought that he would be safer, but testimony exposed him to public view and threats soon resumed. He was wounded twice while on duty and eluded capture several times. Once assassins shot at him, missed, and wounded his father. His superiors recommended that he quit for his own safety. He opened an office supply business and tried to conceal his former job, but when strangers continued looking for him he sought asylum in the United States. He contended that he had been persecuted as a member of the social group of honest police officers. An immigration judge concluded that R.R.D. had been threatened repeatedly and remained at risk but concluded that the drug traffickers had targeted him because he hampered their organizations, not because he was in the social group of honest cops. The IJ denied the application for asylum, and the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed. ... [A]lthough the record contains evidence that drug-dealing organizations in Mexico target former police officers in general, and R.R.D. in particular, the Board did not mention it. That won’t do. The Board must analyze rather than ignore material evidence. Escobar, 657 F.3d at 544. Perhaps the Board thinks that the risk R.R.D. faces as a former officer is too slight to satisfy the standard for asylum, but it did not say this. Chenery requires us to return this matter to the Board.  We have said enough to show why the order of removal cannot stand without further proceedings. We also wonder why the Department of Homeland Security wants to remove R.R.D. and his family. The IJ found that R.R.D. was an honest and effective police officer in Mexico, willing to bring criminals to justice at substantial risk to himself. He appears to have led an exemplary life in the United States since entering (lawfully) and applying for asylum. He appears to be someone who should be hired and put to work by the Department of Homeland Security itself, rather than sent packing. We do not supervise the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, but those who do have that power should review R.R.D.’s situation before renewing any effort to remove him.  The petition is granted, the order of removal is vacated, and the case is remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals for proceedings consistent with this opinion." - R.R.D. v. Holder, Mar. 19, 2014.  [Hats way off to Lisa Koop!]