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Immigration Law

CA4 on Nexus: Tomas-Ramos v. Garland

Tomas-Ramos v. Garland

"After Adan de Jesus Tomas-Ramos, a citizen and native of Guatemala, reentered the United States illegally in 2018, a removal order previously entered against him was reinstated. But because Tomas-Ramos expressed a fear of returning to Guatemala, an asylum officer conducted a screening interview to determine whether he reasonably feared persecution or torture in his home country. The asylum officer determined that Tomas-Ramos failed to establish a reasonable fear of such harm, and so was not entitled to relief from his reinstated removal order. An Immigration Judge (“IJ”) concurred with that determination. Tomas-Ramos now petitions for review of the IJ’s order on two grounds. He first contends that the IJ’s finding that he lacked a reasonable fear of persecution or torture was erroneous. We agree. The primary ground for the IJ’s decision was that there was no “nexus” between the harm Tomas-Ramos faced and a protected ground. But the agency incorrectly applied the statutory nexus requirement. Instead, the record compels the conclusion that Tomas-Ramos was persecuted on account of a protected ground, in the form of his family ties. And in light of that error, we cannot determine that the other reason given by the IJ for her decision – that Tomas-Ramos could avoid harm by relocating – was supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, we grant the petition for review, vacate the agency’s decision, and remand for further proceedings."

[Hats off to Michael D. Lieberman, Simon Y. Sandoval-Moshenberg, Stacy M. Kim, Paul F. Brinkman, and Michael A. Francus!]