Acosta (plaintiff), a citizen of El Salvador, fled his country because he feared for his life. He had worked for a taxi collective in El Salvador, and was repeatedly threatened by guerillas who wanted to disrupt transportation service in the city of San Salvador. Some of his friends and colleagues in the taxi business were beaten or killed. In the United States, Acosta was found to be deportable. He applied for a discretionary grant of asylum and withholding of deportation pursuant to §§ 208 and 243(h), respectively, of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The immigration judge denied Acosta’s applications because Acosta failed to meet his burden of proof. Acosta appealed.