When Gonzalez Cano was twelve years old, he was kidnapped by members of a cartel. The cartel took him to a labor camp, where he and other captives were held and forced to work growing marijuana and other drug plants. Gonzalez Cano was held captive for five years, until sometime in 2000 when a military group rescued him from the labor camp. Gonzalez Cano spent several months in Mexico City after he was freed, and eventually fled Mexico for the United States.

In the United States, he applied for withholding of removal, based on his membership in the particular social group comprised of "escapee Mexican child laborers."  The court rejected this group, finding it was not socially distinct.  "Whether a given particular social group is perceived as distinct by the society of which it is part depends on evidence that the society 'makes meaningful distinctions' based on the common immutable characteristics defining the group. Here, Gonzalez Cano relies on evidence that other people have suffered the same type of harm he did to establish social distinction. However, this evidence alone is insufficient to support a conclusion that Mexican child laborers who have escaped their captors are 'perceived as a cohesive group by society.'” 

The court also affirmed the agency's finding that no nexus existed between the proposed group and feared harm because the group was defined by the harm suffered by its members.  "As such, his membership in that group could not have been the motive, at least initially, for the persecution."

The full text of Gonzalez Cano v. Lynch can be found here: http://media.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/16/01/143730P.pdf