Sanchez-Betancourt v. Garland

Case: 22-60221 Document: 00516631930 Page: 1 Date Filed: 02/01/2023 United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit ____________ FILED February 1, 2023 No. 22-60221 Summary Calendar Lyle W. Cayce Clerk ____________ Ricardo Antonio Sanchez-Betancourt; Maria Elena Espinoza-Salazar; Ricardo Zaid Sanchez-Espinoza, Petitioners, versus Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General, Respondent. ______________________________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency No. A201 429 003 Agency No. A201 429 004 Agency No. A201 429 005 ______________________________ Before Jolly, Jones, and Ho, Circuit Judges. Per Curiam:* Ricardo Antoni Sanchez-Betancourt; his wife, Maria Elena Espinoza- Salazar (Espinoza-Salazar); and their son, all natives and citizens of _____________________ * This opinion is not designated for publication. See 5th Cir. R. 47.5. Case: 22-60221 Document: 00516631930 Page: 2 Date Filed: 02/01/2023 No. 22-60221 Honduras, entered the United States illegally in 2018. Sanchez-Betancourt1 seeks review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing his appeal and affirming the immigration judge’s (IJ’s) denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). We review the BIA’s conclusions of law de novo and its findings of fact for substantial evidence. See Monsonyem v. Garland, 36 F.4th 639, 642 (5th Cir. 2022); Zhu v. Gonzalez, 493 F.3d 588, 594 (5th Cir. 2007). We review only the BIA’s decision, except to the extent the IJ’s decision influenced it. See Singh v. Sessions, 880 F.3d 220, 224 (5th Cir. 2018). To qualify as a refugee for purposes of asylum, Sanchez-Betancourt had to show (1) that he is outside of his country and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution and (2) that his “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for the persecution.” Orellana-Monson v. Holder, 685 F.3d 511, 518 (5th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks, citation, and emphasis omitted); see § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i); Gonzales-Veliz v. Barr, 938 F.3d 219, 224 (5th Cir. 2019). Contrary to Sanchez-Betancourt’s unsupported assertions, the testimony in this matter referenced only, and repeatedly, the criminal pecuniary goals motivating the gang members who accosted Sanchez- Betancourt at his home. See Ontunez-Tursios v. Ashcroft, 303 F.3d 341, 351 (5th Cir. 2002). A reasonable factfinder thus would not be compelled to reach a conclusion contrary to the BIA’s determination of the absence of a nexus between the criminal extortion efforts by the gang and a protected _____________________ 1 Because Sanchez-Betancourt is the lead petitioner and his wife’s and son’s claims for immigration relief are derivative of his claim, we refer only to Sanchez-Betancourt unless otherwise specified. 2 Case: 22-60221 Document: 00516631930 Page: 3 Date Filed: 02/01/2023 No. 22-60221 ground under the law. See Wang v. Holder, 569 F.3d 531, 537 (5th Cir. 2009); see also Shaikh v. Holder, 588 F.3d 861, 864 (5th Cir. 2009). Because such a nexus is an essential element of an asylum claim, …

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