Zelaya v. Holder, No. 10-2401

Decided: January 11, 2012

Denis Javier Zelaya petitioned for review of the final order of the Board of Immigration Appeals affirming the denial of his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Punishment (the CAT). The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Zelaya’s petition for review with respect to his asylum claim and his withholding of removal claim; granted his petition for review with respect to the CAT claim, and vacated and remanded the Board of Immigration Appeals’ final order with respect to the CAT claim. Zelaya qualified for protection under the CAT because he proved that it was more likely than not that he would be tortured if removed to Honduras. Zelaya, a credible witness, consistently resisted MS-13’s recruitment efforts and, as a result, MS-13 consistently pursued him until he fled Honduras, threatening to kill him on several occasions, threatening to kill his brother, and shooting at him. When Zelaya reported a shooting incident to a local police officer with blood streaming down his face, the police officer told him that the police could not help him because MS-13’s members would hurt them as well. Zelaya continues to be in fear of MS-13, and Honduras is a place full of violence, recklessness, and ineffective law enforcement officials. Thus, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals determined this was sufficient evidence to remand the CAT claim back to the Board of Immigration Appeals for additional investigation and explanation.

Full Opinion

-Sara I. Salehi

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