Juan Lopez Chavez v. Merrick Garland

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION File Name: 23a0407n.06 Nos. 22-3162/3562/3964 FILED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS Sep 20, 2023 FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk ) JUAN GABRIEL LOPEZ CHAVEZ; ) ARISELDA CRISTAL LOPEZ CHAVEZ, ) Petitioners, ) ON PETITION FOR REVIEW ) FROM THE UNITED STATES v. ) BOARD OF IMMIGRATION ) APPEALS MERRICK B. GARLAND, Attorney General, ) Respondent. ) OPINION ) Before: BATCHELDER, GRIFFIN, and LARSEN, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM. Juan Gabriel Lopez Chavez and Ariselda Cristal Lopez Chavez, brother and sister, petition this court for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing their appeal from the denial of their applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). As set forth below, we DENY the government’s motion to dismiss and DENY the petitions for review. The petitioners, natives and citizens of Guatemala, applied for admission to the United States in August 2016, when Juan was 15 years old and Ariselda was 13 years old. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) served the petitioners with notices to appear in removal proceedings, charging them with removability as immigrants who, at the time of application for admission, were not in possession of a valid entry document. See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(7)(A)(i)(I). Upon the petitioners’ release to the custody of their mother, the DHS terminated their status as unaccompanied alien children. Nos. 22-3162/3562/3964, Lopez Chavez v. Garland Appearing before an immigration judge (IJ), the petitioners admitted the factual allegations set forth in the notices to appear and conceded removability as charged. The petitioners applied for asylum and withholding of removal due to persecution based on their membership in a particular social group, which they defined as “Guatemalan agrarian youth that are isolated and poor and live in the valley in the crossfire of the war of Tajumulco and that are afraid of the violence and the danger . . . of violence due to the war.” The petitioners also sought CAT protection. At the hearing before the IJ, Juan testified that he and Ariselda lived with their grandmother in a valley in Guatemala where landowners from two municipalities have fought over land and water for a long time. During periods of fighting, which generally lasted two weeks, the petitioners stayed inside and were unable to buy anything or go to school. Juan conceded that he was never harmed during the fighting. According to Juan, their grandmother decided that the petitioners should leave Guatemala and live with their parents in the United States because they were in danger. Juan testified that he feared returning to Guatemala and not having a home or land. Juan also testified about his fear that the war would continue and that he would be forced to join in the fighting when he turned 18 years old. Ariselda agreed with Juan’s testimony, likewise expressing a fear about the war continuing and about not having a house or land to go to if they returned to Guatemala. …

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