Jose Vasquez-Tejada v. Merrick Garland

NOT FOR PUBLICATION FILED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS AUG 23 2022 MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT JOSE NATHANIEL VASQUEZ-TEJADA, No. 19-73236 Petitioner, Agency No. A208-302-081 v. MEMORANDUM* MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General, Respondent. On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Submitted August 17, 2022** Before: S.R. THOMAS, PAEZ, and LEE, Circuit Judges. Jose Nathaniel Vasquez-Tejada, a native and citizen of El Salvador, petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) order dismissing his appeal from an immigration judge’s decision denying his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. ** The panel unanimously concludes this case is suitable for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a)(2). (“CAT”). We have jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252. We review for substantial evidence the agency’s factual findings, including determinations regarding social distinction. Conde Quevedo v. Barr, 947 F.3d 1238, 1241-42 (9th Cir. 2020). We review de novo the legal question of whether a particular social group is cognizable, except to the extent that deference is owed to the BIA’s interpretation of the governing statutes and regulations. Id. We deny the petition for review. Substantial evidence supports the agency’s conclusion that the threats Vasquez-Tejada received did not rise to the level of persecution. See Duran- Rodriguez v. Barr, 918 F.3d 1025, 1028 (9th Cir. 2019) (“We have been most likely to find persecution where threats are repeated, specific and combined with confrontation or other mistreatment.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Substantial evidence supports the agency’s determination that Vasquez- Tejada failed to establish that his proposed particular social group of “Salvadorans who reported a serious gang related crime to law enforcement” is socially distinct within El Salvador. See Conde Quevedo, 947 F.3d at 1243 (substantial evidence supported the agency’s determination that petitioner’s proposed social group of persons who report the criminal activity of gangs to the police was not cognizable because of the absence of society-specific evidence of social distinction). Thus, the BIA did not err in concluding that Vasquez-Tejada did not establish membership in a cognizable particular social group. See Reyes v. Lynch, 842 F.3d 2 19-73236 1125, 1131 (9th Cir. 2016) (in order to demonstrate membership in a particular social group, “[t]he applicant must ‘establish that the group is (1) composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, (2) defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society in question’” (quoting Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I. & N. Dec. 227, 237 (BIA 2014))). Thus, Vasquez-Tejada’s asylum and withholding of removal claims fail. Substantial evidence also supports the agency’s denial of CAT protection because Vasquez-Tejada failed to show it is more likely than not he will be tortured by or with the consent or acquiescence of the government if returned to El Salvador. Aden v. Holder, 589 F.3d 1040, …

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