The Fourth Circuit has remanded a petition for review filed by a female asylum seeker who argued that she was targeted for persecution by the gangs in Honduras based on her status as a single mother. The court found that the gendered statements made by the gang members, as well as the threats made against the petitioner’s daughter, were sufficient to demonstrate that petitioner’s status as an unmarried mother was at least one central reason for the harm she suffered.
With respect to the petitioner’s proposed social group, the court did not decide whether the group was cognizable, but made several observations about the legal conclusions of the Immigration Judge. The court rejected the Immigration Judge’s conclusion that the proposed group was too large to be cognizable for asylum purposes.
Additionally, the petitioner asserted that she was persecuted on account of her imputed anti-gang political opinion. “When, as here, an applicant claims that she has been or will be persecuted on account of an imputed political belief, then the relevant inquiry is not the political views sincerely held or expressed by the victim, but rather the persecutor’s subjective perception of the victim’s views.” The court chided the Immigration Judge for focusing on whether the applicant was politically motivated when she refused the gang’s demands, but remanded for the agency to consider if the gang perceived her refusal as a political statement.
Finally, the court remanded for further analysis of the petitioner’s Convention Against Torture claim. A gang member threatened to rape, mutilate, and murder both the petitioner and her daughter if she did not pay him. The petitioner also testified that Barrio 18 members have continued to ask her family about her whereabouts since she fled. “That testimony alone could be sufficient to sustain her burden as to future mistreatment.” The fact that the testimony was corroborated by expert testimony only strengthened her claim.
The full text of Alvarez Lagos v. Barr can be found here: