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Rivas-Peña v. Sessions - "Pedro Rivas-Pena has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States and is a citizen of Mexico. He faces removal to Mexico because of a state drug trafficking conviction. He has applied for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, alleging that he fears returning to Mexico because members of Los Zetas cartel consider him responsible for the loss of drugs and currency worth more than half a million dollars. An immigration judge dismissed as “speculative” Rivas-Pena’s fear of retribution from the cartel, denied his application for Convention Against Torture deferral, and ordered him removed to Mexico. The Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the judge’s decision, and Rivas-Pena petitions for review. Because neither the immigration judge nor the Board articulated any basis for disagreeing with an expert opinion that corroborates Rivas-Pena’s fear oftorture, we grant the petition for review and remand for further proceedings."
[Hats way off to Carla I. Espinoza! Here's a link to the oral argument.]
Thank you, Daniel! Literally in every denial by the Immigration Judges or the Board they label meritorious claims as "speculation" without truly understanding what that word means. The law requires the IJ to predict or speculate as to future events i.e., likelihood of harm for the petitioner. Thus, speculation cannot be fatal to a claim. What can be sensibly said about a claim is whether is reasonable or unreasonable speculation in light of the record evidence. Unfortunately, IJs do not always engage in that analysis. I hope this decision helps change that culture.