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CA2 on CAT, Honduras: Garcia-Aranda v. Garland

November 21, 2022 (2 min read)

Garcia-Aranda v. Garland

"Karla Iveth Garcia-Aranda petitions for review of two decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) denying asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Garcia-Aranda, a native and citizen of Honduras, testified before an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) that she and her family had been threatened, kidnapped, and beaten by members of the Mara 18 gang while a local Honduran police officer was present. Garcia-Aranda sought asylum and withholding of removal, arguing that the gang had persecuted her because she was a member of the Valerio family, which ran its own drug trafficking ring in Garcia-Aranda’s hometown. She also sought protection under CAT based on an asserted likelihood of future torture at the hands of the gang with the participation or acquiescence of the local Honduran police. Having reviewed both the IJ’s and the BIA’s opinions, we hold that the agency did not err in finding that Garcia-Aranda failed to satisfy her burden of proof for asylum and withholding of removal, but that the agency applied incorrect standards when adjudicating Garcia-Aranda’s CAT claim. Accordingly, the petition for review is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART, the decisions of the BIA are VACATED IN PART to the extent they denied Garcia-Aranda’s claim for CAT protection, and the case is REMANDED to the BIA for further proceedings consistent with this decision. ... Because of these legal errors, we grant the petition as to Garcia-Aranda’s claim for protection under CAT and vacate the BIA’s decisions regarding CAT protection. See Rafiq v. Gonzales, 468 F.3d 165, 166–67 (2d Cir. 2006) (remanding a CAT claim for proper application of Khouzam). On remand, we direct the agency to consider, in light of all testimony and documentary evidence, whether Garcia-Aranda will more likely than not be tortured by, or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, any public official (or other person) acting under color of law. As more fully described above, that means considering questions such as whether it is more likely than not that the gang will torture Garcia-Aranda, including meeting all the harm requirements for torture under section 1208.18(a), and whether it is more likely than not that local police acting under color of law will themselves participate in those likely gang actions or acquiesce in those likely gang actions. The BIA is also instructed to remand to the IJ for any additional factfinding that is necessary for the BIA to make its determination."

[NOTE: This PFR was filed in 2018!  Hats off to Heather Axford and team!]