Salvador Amaya Andrade sought protection under the Convention Against Torture based on a fear of torture in El Salvador because he had two tattoos bearing his initials and his girlfriend's initials.  Though the Board of Immigration Appeals took note that deportees arriving in El Salvador were subject to arbitrary investigations and detentions, and that former gang members were subject to reprisals, and took note of the evidence of widespread violent crime, gang-related violence, impunity from prosecution and judicial corruption, and vigilante squads, it ultimately concluded that Andrade had not proved that “deportees (with or without tattoos) are likely to experience mistreatment rising to the level of torture.”  On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that "[s]ubstantial evidence supported the BIA’s denial of relief on the ground that Andrade’s individual characteristics, being deported from a richer country and bearing non-gang tattoos, failed to establish a probability of torture upon his return to El Salvador."

Though the outcome for Mr. Andrade was not optimal, the Ninth Circuit's conclusion implies a tacit understanding that individuals with gang-related tattoos (or with tattoos that might be perceived as gang-related) might be able to demonstrate a sufficient probability of torture in El Salvador to warrant a grant of protection under the CAT.

The full text of Andrade v. Lynch can be found here: