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Barillas-Mendez v. Lynch

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 4, 2015

Jorge Barillas-Mendez, Petitioner,
v.
Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General of United States [*], Respondent

Submitted October 9, 2014.

Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

For Jorge Barillas-Mendez, Petitioner: Eren Fleck, Iowa City, IA; Daniel Vondra, Cole & Vondra, Iowa City, IA.

For Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General of the United States, Respondent: Sara Bayram, Karen Yolanda Drummond, Ilissa M. Gould, Trial Attorney, Melissa Katherine Lott, Carl H. McIntyre, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC.

Before COLLOTON, BRIGHT, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 788

COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

Jorge Roberto Barillas-Mendez petitions for review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Board affirmed an immigration judge's decision denying Barillas-Mendez's applications for asylum and withholding of removal, and ordering him removed from the United States. Barillas-Mendez argues that the Board erred in ruling that he had not established past persecution in Guatemala, because it failed to consider the cumulative impact of the physical and economic abuse he suffered and did not take into account his young age at the time of the abuse. We conclude that the Board considered the relevant factors, and that the record does not compel a finding contrary to the Board's. We therefore deny the petition.

I.

The Attorney General has discretion to grant asylum to an alien who, due to past persecution " on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion," is unable or unwilling to return to his home country, and thus qualifies as a refugee. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A); see 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b). Barillas-Mendez, a citizen of Guatemala, entered the United States in April 2006 without inspection and sought asylum and withholding of removal. He contends that in Guatemala, he suffered economic and physical abuse by an aunt, and a beating by a cousin, that amounted to persecution.

Barillas-Mendez testified that from age thirteen to seventeen, he lived with his aunt Hilda in Escuintla, Guatemala, and that his parents were in the United States during this time. He said that Hilda beat him every second day with either a piece of wood or an electricity cable, leaving red marks and bruises. Hilda also kept money that his father sent her to provide for Barillas-Mendez. Barillas-Mendez explained that he was unable to tell his parents about the abuse, because Hilda monitored their phone conversations. He said that police never learned of the abuse, as neighbors never knew about it and would not have reported it anyway. Barillas-Mendez testified that his mother arranged for him to travel to the United States after she visited Escuintla and observed his living conditions.

Barillas-Mendez testified about one beating allegedly administered by his second cousin, a member of the MS-13 gang, and a group of the cousin's friends. Barillas-Mendez said that his second cousin

Page 789

initiated the beating because Hilda told him negative things about Barillas-Mendez, and because the cousin believed that Barillas-Mendez was a member of a rival gang. As a result of the beating, ...


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