Sandra Hernandez-Cartagena v. William Barr

PUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 19-1823 SANDRA MARLENY HERNANDEZ-CARTAGENA, Petitioner, v. WILLIAM P. BARR, Attorney General, Respondent. On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Submitted: September 11, 2020 Decided: October 14, 2020 Before THACKER, RICHARDSON, and QUATTLEBUAM, Circuit Judges. Petition for review granted; reversed and remanded with instructions by published opinion. Judge Thacker wrote the opinion, in which Judge Richardson and Judge Quattlebaum joined. Aaron R. Caruso, ABOD & CARUSO, LLC, Gaithersburg, Maryland, for Petitioner. Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General, Bernard A. Joseph, Senior Litigation Counsel, Enitan O. Otunla, Trial Attorney, Civil Division, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent. THACKER, Circuit Judge: Sandra Marleny Hernandez-Cartagena (“Petitioner”) petitions for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirming the immigration judge (“IJ”)’s denial of her application for asylum. Because the IJ and BIA abused their discretion by failing to consider important evidence and reaching conclusions that are inconsistent with the evidence in the record and contrary to law, we grant the petition for review, reverse the BIA’s asylum decision, and remand to the BIA for proceedings consistent with this opinion. I. A. Petitioner was born in El Salvador in 1996. She lived in El Salvador with her mother and father until her parents moved to the United States in 2013. At that point, Petitioner was living in El Salvador with her newborn daughter, her younger brother, and her younger sister. In early 2015, Petitioner was 19 years old and still living with her daughter and siblings in El Salvador when she received a threatening phone call from a man identifying himself as Petitioner’s cousin. Petitioner testified that the caller stated, “we’re calling you so that you will tell your father and your mother they have to send us $200.” A.R. 95. 1 Petitioner further testified “after talking for a while the caller asked for the money and then he made some threats and he sent a number of texts saying that if [Petitioner’s] father and 1 Citations to the “A.R.” refer to the Administrative Record filed by the parties in this appeal. 2 mother didn’t send the money they would kill one of [Petitioner’s] brothers or sisters.” Id. at 97. The caller told Petitioner these threats came from an unidentified gang. Petitioner informed her parents about the threats, and, in response, her parents sent her money to give to the gang. After the first call, the threats continued on a weekly and bi-weekly basis, and the amounts of money demanded increased. Petitioner’s parents were unable to keep up with the increasing payments demanded. The first time there was a missed payment, gang members came to the family home. Petitioner was not home at the time, but her nine year old brother was. The gang members cut the boy with a knife and told him they had done so in order for “his parents . . . to see that the[] [gang members] ...

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