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Immigration Law

CA10 on CAT, Mexico, Cartels: Torrez de Lopez v. Garland

Torrez de Lopez v. Garland

"Maria Torres de Lopez, a native and citizen of Mexico, appeals the denial of her application for deferral of removal under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). Exercising jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a), we grant the petition for review and remand for further proceedings. ... [W]e are compelled to conclude it is more likely than not that El Tigre [of the Sinaloa Cartel] would be aware if Torres de Lopez is removed to Mexico, and that El Tigre and his direct associates would have both sufficient motivation and ability to locate Torres de Lopez anywhere in Mexico. But the evidence does not compel the conclusion that the Juárez or Sinaloa cartels have a sufficient institutional motivation to locate Torres de Lopez anywhere in Mexico. And the questions that remain are ones the IJ did not reach—if El Tigre or his direct associates found Torres de Lopez in Mexico, would they inflict any harm on her, would that harm be severe enough to constitute torture for CAT purposes, and would Mexican public officials instigate, consent to, or acquiesce in such harm? We may not answer those questions in the first instance and remand them to the IJ for initial consideration. ... All this brings us to the fourth and fifth steps in the IJ’s framework—if El Tigre or his direct associates find Torres de Lopez, will they harm her and, if so, will the harm amount to torture? ... [W]e must remand to the agency to conduct the inquiry into the fourth and fifth steps in the first instance. ... We grant the petition for review and remand to the agency for further proceedings consistent with our decision."

[Hats off to Stephen W. Spurgin!]