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Immigration Law

CA8 (2-1) Slaps BIA for Clear Error Violation: Alvarez-Gomez v. Garland

Alvarez-Gomez v. Garland

"Gustavo Alexis Alvarez-Gomez, a citizen of El Salvador, petitions this court for review of the denial of his application for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and reversal of withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Alvarez-Gomez has serious cognitive impairments, and while living in El Salvador he was recruited by gang members who attacked and threatened him when he refused to join. We deny in part, and grant in part, Alvarez-Gomez’s petition for review. ... The IJ ... denied Alvarez-Gomez’s withholding of removal claim pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A). However, the IJ granted Alvarez-Gomez CAT protection. ... The BIA sustained DHS’s appeal. The BIA concluded that the IJ clearly erred in finding that Alvarez-Gomez would more likely than not suffer torture in El Salvador and reversed the IJ’s decision to grant CAT protection. ... [W]e review “whether the Board provided sufficient justification for its determination” that the IJ clearly erred. Abdi Omar, 962 F.3d at 1064. “This means that the Board must adequately explain why it rejected the IJ’s finding and identify reasons grounded in the record that are sufficient to satisfy a reasonable mind that there was clear error.” Id. ... Upon careful review, we conclude that the reasons offered for rejecting the IJ’s findings are insufficient to satisfy a reasonable mind that the IJ clearly erred. ... In sum, the BIA did not provide sufficient justification for reversal, failing to identify reasons grounded in the record that are sufficient to satisfy a reasonable mind that the IJ clearly erred in its factual findings. ... We grant the petition for review with respect to Alvarez-Gomez’s application for withholding under the CAT. We deny Alvarez-Gomez’s petition for review in part and grant it in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

[Hats off to Timothy E. Wichmer!]