Maldonado v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 03-27-2015
  • Case #: No. 09-71491
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judges Kozinski, Wardlaw, Gould, Clifton, M. Smith, Ikuta, N. Smith, Christen, Watford, and Friedland
  • Full Text Opinion

The Convention Against Torture does not place the burden on the petitioner to prove that internal relocation is impossible with regard to internal relocation and deferral of removal proceedings; also, such evidence, if relevant, must be considered when assessing whether it is more likely than not that a petitioner will be tortured if removed.

Roberto Curinsita Maldonado was stripped of his lawful permanent resident status and deported to Mexico after a conviction for first-degree burglary. In his home state of Michoacánán, Mexico, Maldonado was repeatedly tortured by corrupt police officers, and then held for ransom. Despite his father’s payment of $15,000 for his release, Maldonado was forced to assist with the capture of other recent deportees. Maldonado eventually escaped and, between 2000 and 2007, returned to the United States. He was deported three times, but following each return to Mexico, Maldonado was tortured in retaliation for escaping the corrupt officers’ service. After Maldonado’s 2007 apprehension in the Arizona desert, Maldonado expressed his fear of torture if returned to Mexico. An asylum officer found him credible, and referred his claim of torture and request for relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) to an immigration judge (“IJ”). The IJ denied Maldonado’s application after determining that Maldonado could relocate within Mexico and avoid future torture. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed, finding that Maldonado had “failed to establish that internal relocation within Mexico was impossible.” On review, the Ninth Circuit looked to 8 C.F.R. §§ 1208.16(c)(2) and (3), determining that, while § 1208.16(c)(2) places the burden on the petitioner to establish that torture is more likely than not if the petitioner were removed, neither that provision nor § 1208.16(c)(3) requires a petitioner to prove anything as to internal relocation. Rather, § 1208.16(c)(3) requires all relevant evidence to be considered in assessing the likelihood of a petitioner’s torture upon removal. Therefore, because the BIA had applied interpretations of CAT regulations that are no longer controlling, the Court remanded to the BIA for reconsideration. GRANTED and REMANDED.

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