Delmy Carolina Gomez-Garcia; Yoselin Hissella Sosa-Gomez Petitioners
Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General of the United States Respondent
Submitted: March 7, 2017
for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals
WOLLMAN, MELLOY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
MELLOY, Circuit Judge.
Carolina Gomez-Garcia petitions for review of the Board of
Immigration Appeals's ("BIA") decision
affirming the immigration judge's ("IJ") denial
of Gomez-Garcia's request for asylum. For the following
reasons, we deny the petition.
is a native and citizen of El Salvador. She unlawfully
entered the United States on April 5, 2014. After the
Department of Homeland Security issued a notice to appear,
Gomez-Garcia conceded her removability and filed an
application for asylum.
hearing before an IJ, Gomez-Garcia testified that she was the
president of a community development organization in El
Salvador, Asociacion de Desarrollo Comunal - Los Planes
("ADESCOLP"). The organization addressed gang
problems in the area, including the drugs and violence
resulting from MS-13 gang activity. In her role, Gomez-Garcia
went door to door gathering signatures for the creation of a
local police department. In response, MS-13 defaced the
ADESCOLP office with graffiti and twice broke into the
office. The second break-in occurred in June 2013.
Gomez-Garcia and another ADESCOLP board member, Matias
Guevara, witnessed gang members taking ADESCOLP's
electronics. They filed a complaint with the police and,
after a gang member was arrested, both Gomez-Garcia and
Guevara began receiving threats from the suspect's
family. Gomez-Garcia and Guevara dropped the charges after
threats to cut off Guevara's tongue or kill him and to
make Gomez-Garcia "pay."
testified that she continued speaking out against the gangs
after the June 2013 incident. In February 2014,
Gomez-Garcia's nephew, who has ties to MS-13, told her
that MS-13 was going to kidnap her daughter out of
revenge. In March 2014, the suspect in the June
2013 break-in destroyed Guevara's motorcycle, beat up his
brother, and again threatened to cut off Guevara's
and her daughter left El Salvador in late March 2014. Her
nephew has since disappeared, and no further harm has come to
Guevara. Gomez-Garcia testified that she fears MS-13 will
kidnap her daughter or harm her if she returns to El
Salvador. She also testified that there are MS-13 members
throughout the country so she cannot relocate.
McNamara, a professor of Latin American History at the
University of Minnesota, testified that there is serious gang
violence throughout El Salvador. The gangs, McNamara
explained, target anyone who obstructs their operations,
witnesses a crime, or works with the police. This includes
police, military, and civilians. McNamara further testified
that MS-13 would target Gomez-Garcia if she returns to El
Salvador and that gangs carry out their threats no matter how
much time has passed. Finally, McNamara testified that it is
uncommon to relocate within El Salvador and that relocating
would call attention to the person.
found both Gomez-Garcia and McNamara credible. The IJ then
found that Gomez-Garcia did not qualify for asylum because
the harm she suffered in El Salvador did not rise to the
level of persecution, there was not a sufficient nexus
between the harm and a protected ground, and Gomez-Garcia
failed to establish a well-founded fear of future
persecution. As a result, the IJ found that Gomez-Garcia also
had not carried her burden of establishing that she qualified
for withholding of removal or relief under the Convention
Against Torture. The BIA affirmed the IJ's decision.
Gomez-Garcia petitions for review. The BIA's decision was
the final agency decision, see 8 U.S.C. §
1101(a)(47)(B)(i), and we have jurisdiction to consider the
appeal under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(5).
review the BIA's decision, as it is the final agency
action, but 'to the extent that the BIA adopted the
findings or reasoning of the IJ, we also review the IJ's
decision as part of the final agency action.'"
Gutierrez-Vidal v. Holder, 709 F.3d 728, 731-32 (8th
Cir. 2013) (quoting Matul-Hernandez v. Holder, 685
F.3d 707, 710-11 (8th Cir. 2012)). We review decisions on
asylum "under the 'substantial evidence'
standard, upholding the decision if it is 'supported by
reasonable, substantial, and probative evidence' based on