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CA7 on El Salvador, Gang Violence, Social Group: W.G.A. v. Sessions

August 24, 2018 (1 min read)

W.G.A. v. Sessions - "In 2015, tattooed members of the Mara 18 gang held a gun to petitioner W.G.A.’s head and threatened to kill him. The Mara 18—also known as the “Calle 18,” “Barrio 18,” or “Eighteenth Street” gang—is one of the two main gangs operating in El Salvador. Together with their rivals, MS‐13, the Mara 18 terrorize the Salvadoran population and government. The gangs use violence to exercise an enormous degree of social control over their territories, dictating where residents can walk, whom they can talk to, what they can wear, and when they must be inside their homes. The gangs have orchestrated labor strikes, brokered a now‐defunct truce with the government, and plotted to bomb government buildings. They brag about influencing elections and controlling political campaigns within their territories. They extort millions of dollars from local businesses through threats of violence, and they are largely responsible for El Salvador’s homicide rate—one of the highest in the world. Two days after the Mara 18 threatened W.G.A., he fled to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security apprehended W.G.A. for illegally entering the United States and began removal proceedings against him. W.G.A. applied for asylum, statutory withholding of removal, and deferral of removal under Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, arguing that the Mara 18 gang would kill him if he returned to El Salvador. The immigration judge denied his applications and ordered removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed W.G.A.’s appeal, and he petitions this court for review. We grant W.G.A.’s petition for review and remand to the Board for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

[Hats way off to a big team: Lisa Katharine Koop and Ashley Huebner from NIJC; Neil H. Conrad, Kathleen Erin Garvey and John M. Skakun, III (argued) from Sidley Austin, and Monique Sherman of Cooley for amici CLINIC and Law School Immigration Clinic Directors!]