Susana Alfaro Cabrera v. Jefferson Sessions, III

FILED NOT FOR PUBLICATION NOV 07 2018 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT SUSANA YAMILETH ALFARO No. 16-70835 CABRERA, Agency No. A206-675-693 Petitioner, v. MEMORANDUM* JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS III, Attorney General, Respondent. On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Argued and Submitted October 12, 2018 Seattle, Washington Before: N.R. SMITH and CHRISTEN, Circuit Judges, and PAYNE,** District Judge. Petitioner Susana Yamileth Alfaro Cabrera (Alfaro) petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (BIA) denial of her applications for asylum, * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. ** The Honorable Robert E. Payne, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation. withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). We have jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252. We review de novo questions of law, and we review the agency’s factual findings for substantial evidence. Ai Jun Zhi v. Holder, 751 F.3d 1088, 1091 (9th Cir. 2014). We grant the petition in part and remand to the BIA for further proceedings. 1. Asylum. To establish past persecution, an applicant must show that a protected ground was “at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.” 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i). The record compels the conclusion that Alfaro established the requisite nexus between the harm she suffered and a protected ground. Alfaro’s religion and her membership in the social group comprised of her family were both central reasons for the harm Alfaro suffered in El Salvador.1 Alfaro and her family were leaders of the evangelical church “Warriors of Christ,” which they ran out of the front room of their family home. The church led a youth outreach program that helped young people seek refuge and rehabilitation from gangs. Alfaro’s family received death threats from MS-13 because of the church’s 1 In Alfaro’s Pre-Hearing Statement submitted to the Immigration Judge (IJ), Alfaro presented her political opinion and religious beliefs as “entwined.” Because we conclude that there was a nexus between the harm suffered and her religion and her membership in a social group, we need not reach Alfaro’s additional arguments for finding persecution on account of a protected ground. 2 work rehabilitating gang members. After Alfaro and her family helped her nephew Douglas escape the gangs, gang members called and issued death threats, and then Douglas was murdered during church services. Shortly thereafter Alfaro’s brother- in-law, a church pastor who led the youth outreach program, was murdered and found with signs of torture—his eyes were gouged out and he was missing an ear. The gang continued to threaten and intimidate Alfaro’s family, frequently attempting to break into the church on Sundays and forcing Alfaro’s family to flee through a passageway to the neighbor’s home. Substantial evidence does not support the BIA’s conclusion that Alfaro failed to establish the requisite nexus to the harm she suffered, as ...

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