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N.Y.C.C. v. Barr

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 19, 2019

N.Y.C.C., Petitioner,
William P. Barr, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent.

          Argued April 16, 2019

          Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A000-000-000

          Before Easterbrook, Kanne, and Scudder, Circuit Judges.


         To obtain asylum in the United States, N.Y.C.C. needed to establish that she has faced past persecution or harbors a well-founded fear of future persecution based on her membership in a particular social group. An immigration judge determined that she fell short of making this showing and denied her application. The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed. N.Y.C.C. has now sought our review, and she faces the difficult burden of showing that the record compels a different result. Seeing nothing in the record that required the immigration judge (or the Board) to conclude that N.Y.C.C. experienced past persecution or reasonably fears future persecution, we deny her petition.


         N.Y.C.C, a citizen of Mexico, applied for asylum in December 2014. Her application led to a hearing before an immigration judge in September 2015, and there she testified and presented documents to support her petition, including an expert's report on the conditions in Mexico and written statements from family members.

         N.Y.C.C. testified that she fled Mexico because of threats and harassment by her former partner, a man going by the initials E.G. and the father of one of her sons. N.Y.C.C. believes E.G. and his cohorts are members of the Mexican cartel known as La Familia Michoacana. She roots this view in observations she made while the two of them lived together during parts of 2011 and 2012. More specifically, N.Y.C.C. testified that E.G. had a large house despite working at a carwash and frequently stayed out late only to return home in different cars. He often hosted visitors at their home and held discussions he kept N.Y.C.C. from hearing. N.Y.C.C. testified that she once overheard a visitor mention "going to do the job now," and she believed this meant E.G. and his friends planned to kidnap someone. She also testified to finding a gun in their home. All of this caused N.Y.C.C. to believe E.G. and his friends belonged to the La Familia cartel.

         N.Y.C.C. ended her relationship with E.G. in July 2012. She told the immigration judge that she did so because of his suspicious behavior and her fear that opposing cartel members who wished to harm E.G. and La Familia might also end up harming her or her children. This fear, she added, led to her moving back into her mother's house about two hours away while she was nine months pregnant with E.G.'s child. E.G. reacted by telling her that she could leave if she wanted to.

         For the next year or so, E.G. was not around much, only showing up in August 2012 when N.Y.C.C. contacted him to pay for the hospital expenses related to the birth of their child. He resurfaced in June 2013, when N.Y.C.C. began to see him occasionally drive by her home and the restaurant where she worked. She found this worrisome and believed E.G. was looking for her. On a few occasions he entered the restaurant to eat, one time telling N.Y.C.C. that she needed to move back in with him. N.Y.C.C. did not agree to do so, and E.G. reacted by threatening to take her sons away-"the bad way" if necessary. N.Y.C.C. explained that her supervisor observed these events and, aware that E.G. had been following N.Y.C.C, took her son (who was in the restaurant) into a bathroom to hide. E.G. left that day in anger but, as N.Y.C.C. recounted in her testimony, kept returning to the restaurant to look for her.

         Following this confrontation in the restaurant, N.Y.C.C. moved to a different apartment outside of town. Despite doing so, she continued to see E.G. driving by her apartment late at night, often in different cars. She recalled one of the cars that had driven by her apartment also followed her to her son's school one day. N.Y.C.C. remembered another time when E.G. and some of his friends revved their engines outside her apartment and shined their car lights into her room.

         N.Y.C.C. complained to the local police but was told there was nothing they could do. After the police offered no help, she fled to the United States with her children in December 2014. N.Y.C.C. has not spoken to E.G. since their confrontation in the restaurant sometime around June 2013. But, even after she left Mexico, E.G. sent one of his relatives to her mother's house in Mexico to ask for her phone number and whereabouts.

         Drawing on this testimony, N.Y.C.C. argued that she was entitled to asylum on the basis that she fears persecution as the mother of a cartel member's child and as a Mexican woman who cannot leave her relationship. The immigration judge found that, although N.Y.C.C. testified credibly, her testimony fell short of establishing past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution and an inability to relocate in Mexico to avoid persecution. So the judge denied her asylum application. In doing so, the immigration judge added that N.Y.C.C. had not shown she was a member of either social group she identified-Mexican women who cannot ...

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