Ronald Pelaez-Castellanos v. U.S. Attorney General

Case: 18-12579 Date Filed: 07/12/2019 Page: 1 of 8 [DO NOT PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 18-12579 Non-Argument Calendar ________________________ Agency No. A074-628-687 RONALD PELAEZ-CASTELLANOS, Petitioner, versus U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent. ________________________ Petition for Review of a Decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals ________________________ (July 12, 2019) Before WILSON, JILL PRYOR and HULL, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: Ronald Pelaez-Castellanos (“Pelaez”) petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) final order affirming the Immigration Judge’s (“IJ”) Case: 18-12579 Date Filed: 07/12/2019 Page: 2 of 8 denial of his application for withholding of removal. 1 Pelaez argues that the IJ erred in making an adverse credibility finding against him because the IJ considered evidence outside the record. Pelaez also contends that the IJ violated his due process rights by failing to consider a letter from the Assistant United States Attorney (“AUSA”) who prosecuted the criminal case giving rise to the removal proceedings we now review. After careful review, we dismiss his petition. I. BACKGROUND Pelaez, a native and citizen of Guatemala, was granted asylum in the United States in 1996 and later adjusted his status to that of a lawful permanent resident. He was later convicted of using a communications facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b). On that basis, the Department of Homeland Security served Pelaez with a notice to appear, alleging that he was removable under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), because he had been convicted of an aggravated felony, as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(B). He then applied again for asylum, as well as withholding of removal based on his membership in a particular social group. 1 Pelaez also applied for, and was denied, asylum and relief under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”). He has not expressly challenged the denial of asylum or CAT relief in his petition for review, however, so we do not address those issues here. See Sepulveda v. U.S. Att’y Gen., 401 F.3d 1226, 1228 n.2 (11th Cir. 2005). 2 Case: 18-12579 Date Filed: 07/12/2019 Page: 3 of 8 Represented by counsel, Pelaez admitted the factual allegations in his notice to appear. Later, at his merits hearing, he conceded that his § 843(b) conviction was an aggravated felony, which precluded him from obtaining asylum relief. The next question, therefore, was whether the conviction was for a “particularly serious crime,” which would make Pelaez ineligible for withholding of removal. Pelaez contended that his conviction was not a particularly serious crime and he remained eligible for withholding. He asserted that his role in the offense was smaller than his codefendants’ roles; he only facilitated the crime using a telephone, but he was not an actual trafficker. He testified that his codefendants deceived him into participating in the offense, and he was unaware that they were involved in anything illegal. The IJ cross-examined him regarding apparent discrepancies in ...

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