When Threats of Persecution or Torture May Impact Your Deportation Defense in Maryland

Countless numbers of people enter this country — some illegally — to escape persecution, torture, and possible death in the country they left behind. For those people, the option may exist to defeat a removal order and remain in this country if they can credibly establish that the threat exists and meets the criteria the law requires. If you find yourself in that position, it’s vitally important to have on your side a knowledgeable Maryland deportation defense lawyer who understands the law in all its intricacies and knows how to make your case.

An example of this sort of deportation defense was the immigration case of a man named Adan. He was a Guatemalan man who had entered the United States illegally (for a second time) in 2018.

Again, Adan faced removal. At that time, he declared his fear that, if he returned to Guatemala, he would face persecution and/or torture at the hands of the gangs who tried to recruit his son and with whom he fought regarding the son.

As evidence in support of his claim, Adan testified that gang members repeatedly called his home in Guatemala and threatened to kill him and his family if he did not allow them to have his son. These threats were credible, he asserted, because the same gang had killed a fellow member of his church.

Familial Relationships Can Constitute ‘Social Groups’ and Prevent Removal

The government employee who heard Adan’s interview concluded that Adan was credible but nevertheless ruled against him. The interview officer’s position was that the harm Adan had experienced or would experience (if he returned to Guatemala) was not harm based on “a protected characteristic.” U.S. law — 8 U.S.C. Section 1231(b)(3)(A) — says that an immigrant seeking this type of asylum must present not just harm but harm tied to his “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that this decision was erroneous. The appeals court specifically rejected the conclusion that persecution or fear of persecution based on a familial relationship did not constitute persecution or fear of persecution based on membership in a “social group.”

The court pointed out that in 2011 it previously declared that “the family provides a prototypical example of a particular social group.” That meant that family ties — such as being the father of a son who is a recruitment target of a violent gang — meet the law’s standards for “a protected ground for purposes of a persecution claim.”

Back in 2015, the 4th Circuit court reached a similar conclusion in a case with very similar facts. The immigrant was a Salvadoran mother who received threats from a local gang that sought to recruit her son (and which recruitment she prevented.) In that previous case, the court decided that the mother risked persecution “on account of” her membership in her son’s nuclear family, and so she had met the law’s criteria.

In that case, the protected ground was not the only reason but, as the court explained in its 2021 ruling, “it is enough that the protected ground be at least one central reason for the persecution.”

Because the stakes in any removal case are so very high, it is essential that you have powerful legal representation. The skilled Maryland deportation defense attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC are here to help. We are experienced in handling these kinds of cases and presenting effective defenses on behalf of at-risk people in need of remaining in this country. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form to set up your consultation.

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