Cordero-Chavez v. Garland

Case: 21-60370 Document: 00516495126 Page: 1 Date Filed: 10/04/2022 United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED October 4, 2022 No. 21-60370 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk Sayda Sarai Cordero-Chavez, Petitioner, versus Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General, Respondent. Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals BIA No. A206 703 798 Before Clement, Duncan, and Wilson, Circuit Judges. Stuart Kyle Duncan, Circuit Judge: Sayda Sarai Cordero-Chavez petitions for review of the dismissal of her application for asylum and withholding of removal. She claimed abuse by a former boyfriend and gang member, but the immigration judge (“IJ”) denied her application because she did not find Cordero-Chavez credible. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed the IJ’s credibility finding and also concluded Cordero-Chavez did not raise a claim under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) before the IJ. We deny the petition. Case: 21-60370 Document: 00516495126 Page: 2 Date Filed: 10/04/2022 No. 21-60370 I. Cordero-Chavez, a native and citizen of El Salvador, entered the United States without inspection in July 2014. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) detained her and initiated expedited removal proceedings. After Cordero-Chavez expressed fear of returning to El Salvador due to an abusive former boyfriend (and current MS- 13 gang member), an asylum officer conducted a credible-fear interview. See 8 C.F.R. § 208.30. Based on this interview, the officer concluded Cordero- Chavez did not have a credible fear of persecution. But an IJ reversed the officer’s findings, and Cordero-Chavez received full removal proceedings. At an initial hearing, the IJ asked Cordero-Chavez’s attorney what relief she was seeking, to which the attorney responded, “Asylum and withholding of removal.” The attorney said nothing about CAT relief. Cordero-Chavez then filed an asylum application (Form I-589), which is also deemed an application for withholding of removal. See 8 C.F.R. § 1208.3(b). On the form, Cordero-Chavez left blank a box asking whether she “also want[ed] to apply for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture.” Elsewhere on the form, she checked a box indicating she sought asylum or withholding based on “Membership in a particular social group,” while leaving blank a nearby box marked “Torture Convention.” On the next page of her application, however, she answered “Yes” to a question asking whether she was “afraid of being subjected to torture” in her home country. Her explanation stated she feared being killed by her former boyfriend. At her removal hearing, Cordero-Chavez testified through an interpreter and was represented by counsel. The IJ found that Cordero- Chavez made inconsistent statements during her hearing, on her asylum application, and at her credible-fear interview. These inconsistencies concerned (1) the severity and frequency of her abuse; (2) her abuser’s 2 Case: 21-60370 Document: 00516495126 Page: 3 Date Filed: 10/04/2022 No. 21-60370 connection to Salvadoran police officers; (3) the identity of someone who sent her threatening Facebook messages; and (4) a threatening letter allegedly sent to her family’s residence. Based on these inconsistences, the …

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