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Court of Appeals Denies Petition of Immigrant Brothers to Review Failed Applications for Asylum, Withholding of Removal and CAT Relief

Two brothers and natives from Guatemala petitioned the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ruling of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and immigration judge (IJ) on their applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention against Torture (CAT). The IJ ruled the brothers were ineligible for all three applications and the decision was affirmed by the BIA. The Court of Appeals also denied their petitions for review.

A Case for Two Brothers

Ruben and Mario Cambara-Cambara are brothers who left Guatemala and entered the U.S. separately without inspection in 2001 and 2004. The two filed their applications for asylum, withholding of removal and CAT relief in 2009.

According to immigration law, “To be eligible for withholding of removal to a particular country, an alien must show a ‘clear probability’ that he would suffer persecution on account of a protected ground such as political opinion or membership in a social group.”

The Cambaras claim that they experienced extortionate demands and violent attacks by the Maras 18 gang members and were likely to suffer persecution if they returned to their native country because of their membership in two social groups: the Cambara family and educated Guatemalan landowners and farmers.

Denial of Three Applications

The IJ found that the brothers’ asylum applications were untimely, because these were filed more than a year after the Cambaras entered the U.S., and neither established extraordinary circumstances that could excuse their untimely filing.

The asylum applications were also denied because neither brother proved that:

  • (1) he had suffered past persecution
  • (2) he was a member of a cognizable social group
  • (3) he would be persecuted in the future on account of his membership in that social group

Despite their claims of persecution, the IJ ruled that the “Cambara family” and “educated Guatemalan landowners and farmers” were not, by definition, cognizable social groups. The BIA affirmed the IJ, stating the Cambaras’ family members have not “been specifically targeted due to their familial relationship, particularly where some members of the family have not received threats or been harmed.”

Since the Cambaras did not meet the standard for asylum, the brothers also did not meet the higher standards for withholding of removal or CAT relief.

The Cambaras then petitioned the Court of Appeals to review their case. Ultimately, the court agreed with the BIA and IJ that there is no evidence to support that the Cambaras’ mistreatment in Guatemala is associated with their membership in a cognizable social group. The court also concluded that the petitioners’ family is no different from any other Guatemalan family that has experienced gang violence.

The case of the Cambaras illustrates how definition of terms heavily affects the decision of the IJ and BIA. If you need help understanding the precise interpretations of immigration law, schedule a consultation with Lyttle Law Firm. We will help you find the best legal strategies for your case.

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