Cruz-Guzman v. Barr

Cruz, a native of El Salvador, grew up in a neighborhood dominated by the 18th Street gang. A rival gang, MS-13, sought to recruit Cruz and his friends as “spies” to relay information about 18th Street activities. After they refused, MS-13 threatened and assaulted them. MS-13 members murdered Cruz’s friend. Later that week, one of them told Cruz “if [he] was just as stupid as Brian, then the same thing would happen.” Cruz fled El Salvador and was apprehended near Hidalgo, Texas. In his deportation proceeding, Cruz sought asylum based on his fear of gang violence if he returned home. While his asylum application was pending, MS-13 killed one of Cruz’s friend, while 18th Street killed another. Both gangs extorted protection money from Cruz’s mother. When she missed a payment, 18th Street members broke into her house, beat her, and threatened to rape Cruz’s sister. While the Immigration Judge found Cruz’s testimony credible, she denied Cruz’s asylum application because Cruz failed to establish that he faced this persecution “on account of” a protected ground (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)(A)). The BIA affirmed. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review. Cruz did not establish a connection between his “well-founded fear of persecution” and his membership in a particular social group. View "Cruz-Guzman v. Barr" on Justia Law