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Seventh Circuit Recommends Review of Removal Order Against Immigrant, Cites Convention Against Torture

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently recommended a review of a removal order against Martin Mendoza-Sanchez, citing his strong eligibility for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture, an international convention to which the United States belongs.

In his appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, Mendoza-Sanchez contends his removal to Mexico would lead to his torture and death—falling well within the mandate of the Convention. That appeal however, was rejected.

Mendoza’s Immigration and Criminal Offenses

Mendoza-Sanchez first immigrated to the United States in 1983 at the age of 18, eventually becoming a legal permanent resident. Along the way, however, he was involved in the illegal drug trade, dealing cocaine he said had been obtained through members of La Linea, a drug cartel known for their violent tactics and dealings with corrupt Mexican police offers.

In 2010, an Indiana court convicted Mendoza-Sanchez for drug dealing charges, meting him with a 12-year prison sentence. In prison, a fellow inmate and a member of the La Linea cartel—whom Mendoza-Sanchez knew as “Pelon”—assaulted him at the prison cafeteria, breaking his teeth and threatening that several cartel members, who had been arrested, believe that he had snitched. The La Linea had also reportedly vowed to kill him if he crossed the border back to Mexico. For though he was sentenced to 12 years, Mendoza-Sanchez had been released after serving 5.

Facing removal proceedings after his prison term, Mendoza-Sanchez was now at risk for removal to Mexico due to his drug conviction. He didn’t appeal his removability, but requested a deferral of removal under the CAT in fear of his life. During his immigration hearing, Mendoza-Sanchez gave evidence of La Linea’s nationwide reach in Mexico, pointing out that several of the country’s law enforcement agencies were allegedly infiltrated by the drug cartels.

Immigration Ruling

While the judge called him a “credible witness,” he ultimately ruled that Mendoza-Sanchez failed to establish enough eligibility to qualify for deferral of removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals concurred with the decision, citing how Mendoza-Sanchez did not present enough evidence to prove a public official in Mexico would agree to, or knowingly ignore, such an action against the petitioner.

Hope for Mendoza-Sanchez

After Mendoza-Sanchez filed his opening, the government responded by filing a motion requesting the Seventh Circuit to remand the case to the Board for review of Mendoza’s eligibility for deferral of removal under the provisions of the CAT. The motion, however, does not confess error, but recommends remand to allow the Board to conduct another, more in-depth, investigation of the evidence presented by Mendoza, providing a more comprehensive explanation regarding the issues presented in his request for deferral of removal.

The Seventh Circuit believes Mendoza-Sanchez has a strong case for deferral of removal. For now, they can only recommend that the Board of Immigration Appeals review the case, with the hope that the Board will be more mindful of the points and analysis presented in their 8-page opinion.

If you or anyone you know is facing a similar situation, fearing for your/their safety upon deportation, please contact the immigration lawyers of Lyttle Law Firm. Learn about your rights by calling our offices at 512-215-5225 or by visiting our website.

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