Juana Espino Garcia v. Merrick Garland

NOT FOR PUBLICATION FILED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS AUG 31 2022 MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT JUANA IRIS ESPINO GARCIA, No. 16-72838 Petitioner, Agency No. A206-913-479 v. MEMORANDUM* MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General, Respondent. On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Argued and Submitted August 10, 2022 Seattle, Washington Before: BERZON, CHRISTEN, and FORREST, Circuit Judges. Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Judge FORREST. Juana Iris Espino Garcia (“Espino Garcia”), a native and citizen of Mexico, petitions for review from the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA’s”) dismissal of her appeal from the immigration judge’s (“IJ’s”) denial of her application for asylum, withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). We grant the petition in part and deny it in part. When “the BIA agrees with the IJ’s reasoning, we review both decisions.” Garcia-Martinez v. Sessions, 886 F.3d 1291, 1293 (9th Cir. 2018). “[W]e consider only the grounds relied upon by th[e] agency,” and we remand to allow the agency to decide any remaining issues. Regalado-Escobar v. Holder, 717 F.3d 724, 729 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Andia v. Ashcroft, 359 F.3d 1181, 1184 (9th Cir. 2004)). We review legal questions de novo and factual findings for substantial evidence. See Garcia v. Wilkinson, 988 F.3d 1136, 1142 (9th Cir. 2021). 1. The BIA committed legal error when, for purposes of determining whether Espino Garcia established that the harms she fears are because of actual or imputed political opinion, it applied the same “one central reason” standard to both her asylum and statutory withholding of removal claims. An applicant for withholding of removal need only show that a protected ground is “a reason” for the feared harm, rather than “one central reason.” See Barajas-Romero v. Lynch, 846 F.3d 351, 358–60 (9th Cir. 2017); see also 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(C). The “a reason” standard applicable to withholding of removal is “less demanding” than the “one central reason” standard that applies to asylum claims. Barajas-Romero, 846 F.3d at 360; see also Garcia, 988 F.3d at 1146. 2 Where the BIA has applied the wrong nexus standard to a withholding of removal claim, remand is appropriate if the evidence supporting the agency’s conclusion is “not unambiguous.” Garcia, 988 F.3d at 1147; Barajas-Romero, 846 F.3d at 360. Here, Espino Garcia, whom the agency found credible, submitted evidence from which a reasonable fact finder could conclude that actual or imputed political opinion was “a reason” for the harms she fears. First, she provided evidence connecting her sister’s and brother-in-law’s murders to their political activities. She testified that her sister and brother-in-law were politically active, her brother-in-law held a government position, and her brother-in-law had to travel for his political work. The sicarios were monitoring the couple’s activities, warned her brother-in-law not to travel, …

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