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Immigration Law

CA4 on Asylum, Nexus, Political Opinion, Guatemala: Lopez Ordonez v. Barr

Lopez Ordonez v. Barr

"Hector Daniel Lopez Ordonez was conscripted into the Guatemalan military when he was 15 years old. As part of the G-2 intelligence unit, Lopez Ordonez was ordered— and repeatedly refused—to torture and kill people. After a particularly horrific incident in which Lopez Ordonez refused to murder a five-month-old baby and threatened to report the G-2’s abuses to human rights organizations, the G-2 confined him to a hole in the ground for ten months. Upon his release, he fled to the United States. Lopez Ordonez now petitions this Court to review an order from the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) denying his asylum application and ordering his removal to Guatemala. The BIA determined that Lopez Ordonez did not meet the nexus requirement to establish his eligibility for asylum—that is, he did not show past persecution on account of a statutorily protected ground. The record in this case, however, compels us to conclude that Lopez Ordonez has demonstrated that one central reason for his persecution by the Guatemalan military was his political opinion, a protected ground under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). Accordingly, we vacate the BIA’s nexus determination and remand for further proceedings."

[Hats off to Samuel B. Hartzell!]