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CA8 on Nexus, Evidence: Rivera v. Garland

July 05, 2024 (1 min read)

Rivera v. Garland

"The BIA and IJ both failed to conduct the required careful examination of the record to determine whether religion may have been one of multiple central reasons for the gang members’ persecution of Rivera. ... Neither the BIA nor the IJ considered the possibility that Rivera’s religion could have been an additional central reason for his persecution. This was error. The BIA and IJ opinions also signal an impermissibly narrow view of what it means to be persecuted “on account of” religion. ... The BIA and IJ also relied on facts not supported by substantial evidence and failed to consider significant evidence relevant to Rivera’s claim that he was persecuted on account of his religion. ... The BIA should have considered whether this evidence supported the inference that a second central reason that Rivera was targeted was his religious views and the actions he took in accordance with those views—like helping Rivera leave the gang. In addition to its legal error, the BIA erred by not considering this evidence. ... On remand, the BIA should conduct the proper legal analysis and consider all of the credible evidence relevant to whether Rivera’s religion was an additional central reason for his persecution, particularly the undisputed portions of Rivera’s testimony. In doing so, it should bear in mind that, even if a protected ground was not the final “trigger” for persecution, persecution may, at least in some circumstances, be “on account of” religion if it is the practice of an individual’s religion which leads to him being targeted in the first instance. ... [B]ecause the IJ and BIA relied on facts not supported by the evidence and committed legal error in its nexus analysis, we note that the BIA may be required to revisit the question of “future persecution” after fully addressing the question of past persecution. ... For the foregoing reasons, we deny the petition for review as to Reyes’s individual asylum claim, grant the petition for review as to Rivera’s claims on behalf of himself and his family, vacate in part the BIA’s decision, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

[Hats off to the Sage of Shawnee, Matthew Hoppock!  Listen to the oral argument here.]