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CA3 on Guatemala, Law, Facts and Standard of Review: Saban-Cach v. Atty. Gen.

January 25, 2023 (1 min read)

Saban-Cach v. Atty. Gen.

"Based on past experiences, if returned to Guatemala, Selvin Heraldo Saban-Cach fears being persecuted by a local gang because of his identity as an indigenous person. Accordingly, he seeks withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act and protection from removal under the Convention Against Torture. The Immigration Judge denied his applications and ordered his removal, and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. This petition for review followed. For the reasons that follow, we will grant the petition, vacate the BIA’s decision, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. ... Although the BIA need not write an overly detailed explanation of its review of an IJ’s decision, it must provide an adequate explanation of its ruling and afford us an opportunity to review it. Here, the BIA did neither. At times, the IJ’s decision completely conflicts with the record. Yet, for reasons that are not at all apparent, the BIA affirmed the IJ’s decision in its entirety. ... The BIA must review the first, factual question for clear error and the second, legal question de novo. In affirming the IJ’s decision of the second question regarding acquiescence, the BIA concluded that it found “no clear error in the [IJ]’s predictive fact-finding.” Accordingly, in addition to not bifurcating the Myrie step-two inquiry, the BIA also erred by applying this heightened standard of review to a legal question. Because of these errors, “we have little insight into the basis for [the BIA’s] determination that the IJ’s opinion ‘clearly reflects that [s]he used the proper “willful blindness” standard in relation to the issue of acquiescence.’” Accordingly, on remand the BIA needs to reassess each question."

[Hats way off to Stephanie Norton, CSJ Practitioner-in-Residence, Detained Immigrant Project Education, Seton Hall!]