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Ruiz-Cabrera v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 8, 2014

BENJAMIN CARLOS RUIZ-CABRERA, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent

Argued, March 5, 2014

Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. A089-276-407.

For Benjamin C. Ruiz-Cabrera, Petitioner: Daniel W. Thomann, Chicago, IL.

For ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General of the United States, Respondent: Timothy G. Hayes, Rebekah Nahas, Oil, Department of Justice, Washington, DC.

Before EASTERBROOK, MANION, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 755

Hamilton, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner Benjamin Ruiz-Cabrera is a Mexican citizen who fears harm from his physically abusive and politically active wife back in Mexico. He challenges the denial of his applications for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture. He maintains that his wife and her political allies will target him for persecution based on his proposed particular social group: " persons who face persecution by corrupt governmental and law enforcement authorities instigated by a politically connected spouse." He also asserts he will be persecuted for imputed political opinions in opposition to or in support of his wife's political party.

We deny Ruiz-Cabrera's petition. The Board of Immigration Appeals did not err by finding that he failed to identify a valid " particular social group" within the meaning of the statutes authorizing asylum and withholding of removal. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A) (defining " refugee" ), § 1158(b)(1)(A) (authorizing asylum); § 1231(b)(3)(A) (requiring withholding of removal if alien's " life or freedom would be threatened in that country because of the

Page 756

alien's race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion" ). In addition, substantial evidence supports the Board's determinations that Ruiz-Cabrera did not show imputed political opinion or a likelihood of torture.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Ruiz-Cabrera entered the United States without inspection (i.e., unlawfully) in 2001. He came to the attention of immigration authorities in 2009 after an arrest. He conceded removability, but he applied for withholding of removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1231 saying that he feared returning to Mexico because of threats and mistreatment by his wife, who holds a local office as a member of Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Ruiz-Cabrera stated in his application that he feared his wife would " use her political influence to have people close to her cause me harm, including torture at the hands of Mexican law enforcement." He sought relief based on imputed political opinion (opposition to the PRD) and membership in a particular social group, which he defined as " individuals who face persecution by corrupt governmental and law enforcement authorities instigated by a politically connected spouse." He also applied for protection under the Convention Against Torture. See 8 C.F.R. § 1208.16(c).

At his hearing before an immigration judge, Ruiz-Cabrera recounted experiences that led him to fear his wife. The two had begun dating in 1989, had three sons over the next seven years, and married in 2000. Ruiz-Cabrera testified that throughout the 1990s, his wife would often become violent (throwing stones and other objects at him) and twice urged men to fight him, publicly asserting that he had abused her. Though he was able to defuse those confrontations, Ruiz-Cabrera singled out a particularly frightening incident in 1996 or 1997 when someone fired two shots at him. He believes the shots were fired by the brother of a neighbor with whom his wife accused him of having an affair. Ruiz-Cabrera said that he agreed to marry his wife in 2000 " to keep [his] children secure." He entered the United States illegally a year later, ...


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