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Eighth Circuit Upholds Asylum Denial to Guatemalan Brothers

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Cambara-Cambara v. Lynch, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16707 (8th Cir. Sept. 13, 2016)

On September 13, 2016, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision denying asylum, withholding of removal and CAT relief to two Guatemalan brothers. In their appeal to the Eighth Circuit, the Cambara brothers alleged that (1) their asylum application was NOT time barred because a December 2008 attack on their father qualified as a changing circumstance that allowed them to file for asylum in 2009 (although they had arrived to the U.S. years earlier and had been found by the Immigration Judge (IJ) to be time-barred from applying) and that (2) persecution against members of their family did not amount to persecution against a social group per the standards of asylum. The court upheld the BIA’s finding that brothers’ family was no different from any other Guatemalan family who has experienced gang violence, and that there was no evidence that their mistreatment was associated with membership in a social group of educated landowners and farmers.

Implications:

  • In order to file for asylum, a person must show that they themselves had suffered past persecution.
  • A person must file for asylum within one year of having arrived to the United States.
  • There is a high burden of proof to show that one’s family is part of a targeted social group. There must be strong evidence that the family itself is being targeted. If not everyone in the family is being targeted; the burden of proof is not met.

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