Immigration Law

Trump appointee writes appeals opinion ordering reconsideration of Mexican mother's asylum request

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A federal appeals court has vacated an immigration decision against an Ohio mother because of an immigration court’s failure to consider evidence that she would be persecuted by a drug cartel.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an asylum case by Maribel Trujillo Diaz, report the Washington Post, USA Today and Courthouse News Service.

Trujillo Diaz, a mother of four with no criminal record since entering the country in 2002, was deported last April. She had won support from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Catholic dioceses in multiple states that gathered petition signatures calling for a suspension of the deportation.

The author of the opinion was Judge John K. Bush, a Trump appointee who attracted controversy because of conservative blog posts written under a pseudonym. Other judges on the panel were Gilbert Merritt and Karen Nelson Moore.

Trujillo Diaz testified in 2012 that she feared for her safety in Mexico because she believed the drug cartel, La Familia, would seek revenge for her brother’s refusal to work for the cartel before he fled to the United States. The immigration judge had ruled against Trujillo Diaz because the cartel had not harmed her or any family members besides her brother. The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed her appeal.

Nonetheless, Trujillo Diaz was allowed to remain in the United States under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement order of supervision. Last February, she learned that her father was kidnapped by another Mexican cartel, the Knights Templar. The kidnappers told Trujillo Diaz’s father they were looking for his son—Trujillo Diaz’s brother.

Trujillo Diaz sought to reopen her case under an exception to the time limit. Two days after her motions were filed, ICE agents detained Trujillo Diaz and scheduled her deportation. She asked for a stay of her removal, but the BIA and the 6th Circuit denied the request and Trujillo Diaz was later deported. In May, the BIA denied the woman’s motion to reopen her case, finding she had not demonstrated eligibility for asylum.

The 6th Circuit said the BIA abused its discretion because Trujillo Diaz had presented evidence of an individual fear of persecution. An affidavit by her father “contained concrete, factual assertions as to the familial motivation behind his kidnapping and the threat of harm to Trujillo Diaz,” the court said.

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