Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder

707 F.3d 1081 (2013)

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Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
707 F.3d 1081 (2013)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

Rocio Henriquez-Rivas (plaintiff) was a citizen of El Salvador. When Henriquez-Rivas was a child, M-18 gang members entered her house and killed her father. Henriquez-Rivas and her sister were witnesses to the murder. Henriquez-Rivas identified the gang members in a lineup and testified against them in court, helping to convict them and send them to prison. Over the next few years, several men, including verified M-18 members, began asking about Henriquez-Rivas’s whereabouts and those of her sister. El Salvador had a witness-protection law to protect individuals who testified against violent criminals like M-18 members, but Henriquez-Rivas fled El Salvador for the United States, fearing that the M-18 members would harm her because of her testimony. After an asylum hearing, an immigration judge granted Henriquez-Rivas asylum in the United States, finding that under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), she was a member of a particular social group—people testifying against or opposing gang members—and that she had a well-founded fear of persecution based on her group status if she returned to El Salvador. The Board of Immigration Appeals (board) (defendant) reversed the judge’s decision, finding that Henriquez-Rivas’s group as defined by the judge lacked sufficient social visibility to constitute a particular social group under the INA. Henriquez-Rivas appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bea, J.)

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