Appeals court rules fleeing violence is not a valid claim for illegal immigrants claiming asylum in the US


NEW ORLEANS, LA – A federal appeals court has reaffirmed that fleeing violence is not a valid claim for asylum in the United States.

Ruling in the case of Hercules v. Garland, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to review a Salvadoran man’s appeal for humanitarian deportation relief Wednesday, finding that immigration judges had rightfully denied his claims after he failed to show he was a member of a persecuted group.

Jose Alberto Hercules, a native and citizen of El Salvador, sought to gain asylum to avoid deportation from the U.S. by claiming he was fleeing violence and would be targeted by gangs if he returned.

He petitioned for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) dismissing his appeal of an immigration judge’s (IJ) denial of asylum.

He also presented claims in court that he should not be deported because he was fleeing violence in El Salvador and because he was a Salvadoran man.

The lower courts determined that Hercules did not present a legitimate claim for asylum and could be deported.

Hercules had presented claims in court that he should not be deported because he was fleeing violence in El Salvador because he was a Salvadoran man and that he would be targeted by gangs upon return.

The short, unpublished panel opinion identified the three particular reasons the circuit judges said Hercules named at various stages of his removal proceedings before an (IJ) and the BIA. None qualified him for either withholding of removal or protection under the UN Convention Against Torture, according to the panel.

The panel wrote:

“To be eligible for withholding of removal, an applicant must demonstrate a clear probability of persecution upon return on account of a statutorily protected ground, such as his membership in a PSG (particular social group).

“The BIA correctly concluded Hercules’ originally proposed PSG, ‘Salvadoran men who fear violence and delinquency in their home country’, was not a cognizable PSG because it was circularly defined by the feared persecution.”

Last year, the D.C. Circuit Court resurrected part of the “circularity rule,” a policy barring migrants from claiming relief as part of a group defined entirely by the fact that its members faced persecution.

The panel, in that case, relied on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ 2018 opinion in Matter of A-B-, which overturned a previous BIA ruling to tighten requirements for particular social groups.

The Sessions ruling said:

“While I do not decide that violence inflicted by non-governmental actors may never serve as the basis for an asylum or withholding application based on membership in a particular social group, in practice such claims are unlikely to satisfy the statutory grounds for proving group persecution that the government is unable or unwilling to address.”

The ruling essentially means that a person cannot obtain asylum simply because they are a member of a group that has faced violence. Absent a specific, individual case being made for danger to the individual, a person can be deported.

The court also refused to hear arguments that Hercules was a member of a new social group in need of protection, “Salvadorian males,” because he failed to make an argument in support of the group to the immigration judge.

Lastly, the panel denied his claim that he was a member of another group, deported individuals. He tried to claim that deported individuals from the United States would be targeted by gangs and criminals because they would be viewed as having money.

The panel agreed with the IG:

“The [immigration judge] found that, to the extent he alleged such a group, it was not cognizable.”

U.S. Circuit Judges Rhesa Barksdale, James E. Graves Jr., and Andy Oldham sat on the panel for the Fifth Circuit.

Hercules’ attorney, Gino Mario Mesa, did not respond to media requests for comment.

The government was represented by Allison R. Frayer and Christopher C. Buchanan of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation.

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Democrats push to end ICE partnerships with local police as illegal immigration crisis explodes in America

April 27, 2021


 WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic legislators are seeking to end a federal program that allows local police to seamlessly transfer criminal illegal aliens over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for arrest and deportation.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) have sent a letter to Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, asking him to terminate the agency’s 287(g) agreements with local law enforcement agencies.

The 287(g) agreements allow local law enforcement agencies to enter into agreements with ICE allowing local departments to identify illegal aliens and hand them over to ICE for processing and eventual deportation.

ICE describes the 287(g) program as “mutually beneficial”:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) Program enhances the safety and security of communities by creating partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify and remove aliens who are amenable to removal from the United States.

The 287(g) Program continues to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from its partners. The mutually beneficial agreements allow state and local officers to act as a force multiplier in the identification, arrest, and service of warrants and detainers of incarcerated foreign-born individuals with criminal charges or convictions.”

Some of the criminal illegal aliens arrested by local police and subsequently turned over to ICE agents included those charged with drug trafficking, child rape, domestic violence, carrying a firearm without a license, aggravated assault, and felony embezzlement.

Despite the success and popularity of the program with law enforcement agencies, the Democratic lawmakers wrote to Mayorkas telling him that he must terminate the agreements:

“We write to you to urge you to immediately terminate all existing 287(g) agreements. These agreements undermine public safety and result in the racial profiling and harassment of immigrant communities.

“In order for our immigration system to properly represent our American values, it is paramount that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implement critical changes in how it seeks to enforce federal immigration law.”

Democratic lawmakers threatened that if the Department of Homeland Security does not terminate the agreements unilaterally, they will introduce the PROTECT Immigration Act in Congress to repeal Section 287(g):

“Today, on April XX, 2021m (sic), we introduced the PROTECT Immigration Act, which would repeal Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act once and for all. While it will take congressional action to repeal this provision of federal law, we strongly encourage DHS to terminate all existing 287(g) agreements immediately.

“This would represent a critical step in disentangling federal immigration enforcement from state and local law enforcement and improve the enforcement of our nation’s federal immigration laws.”

In a statement to NBC News, Sen. Booker argued that immigration enforcement should not be the responsibility of local and state law enforcement:

“Immigration enforcement should not be delegated to state and local police departments that are not equipped to enforce immigration laws — it is the job of the federal government.

“These agreements undermine public safety and result in the racial profiling and harassment of members of the immigrant community.”

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and  Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are co-sponsors of the bicameral bill.

The House version of the legislation will be introduced by Rep. Michael Quigley (D-IL) and co-sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal ( D-WA).

President Biden, who administration is struggling to control an immigration crisis at the southern border, has not addressed the Democrats’ call for termination of Section 287(g) agreements.

In February, a group of 60 House Democrats urged the President to end programs at the Department of Homeland Security that allowed for state and local police to assist in immigration enforcement.

The lawmakers also asked the Biden administration to end a program started by the George W. Bush administration that gave federal agents access to the fingerprints of individuals booked into jail by local and state authorities. The program, known as Secure Communities, was ended by former President Barack Obama in 2014 but restarted by Trump via a 2017 executive order.

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans have been critical of the administration’s handling, or failure to handle, the immigration crisis. A group of 12 Republican Senators led by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) urged the Biden administration to reconsider its immigration agenda in light of the rapidly expanding border crisis.




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