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Immigration Law

CA9 on Asylum, El Salvador, Social Group: Acevedo Granados v. Garland

Acevedo Granados v. Garland

"Petitioner Wilber Agustin Acevedo Granados (“Acevedo”), a native of El Salvador, petitions for review of the decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirming an order of removal and the denial by the Immigration Judge (“IJ”) of Acevedo’s application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Acevedo’s petition is based on his fear that, if returned to El Salvador, he would face persecution or torture on account of his membership in a particular social group, defined based on his intellectual disability. The BIA rejected Acevedo’s claims on the ground that the proposed group definition was not cognizable. The BIA held that Acevedo’s proposed social group was not sufficiently particular, finding that the terms “intellectual disability” and “erratic behavior” rendered the proposed group “amorphous, overbroad, diffuse,[and]subjective.” The BIA further determined that the group was not a “meaningful social unit, distinct from the larger population of mentally ill individuals” in El Salvador. We conclude that the agency misunderstood Acevedo’s proposed social group, and thus grant the petition for review with respect to the claims for asylum and withholding of removal. The BIA and IJ treated the term “intellectual disability” as if it were applied by a layperson. Instead, that term as used in Acevedo’s application referred to an explicit medical diagnosis with several specific characteristics. Recognized that way, the clinical term “intellectual disability” may satisfy the “particularity” and “social distinction” requirements necessary to qualify for asylum and withholding of removal. However, because the IJ did not recognize the proposed social group before her, we remand to the agency for fact-finding on an open record to determine if the group is cognizable."

[Hats off to Prof. Evangeline Abriel and her Certified Law Students Keuren A. Parra Moreno (argued) and Jared Renteria (argued)!]