Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration
JOLLY, COSTA, and ENGELHARDT, Circuit Judges.
D. ENGELHARDT, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Ariel Pena Oseguera (Pena Oseguera) is a native of Honduras.
He appeals the denial of his application for asylum and
withholding of removal.
early 2013, Pena Oseguera was a university student and lived
with his family. During that time, his mother, a Honduran
supervisory police officer, received a tip about corrupt
police officers who were colluding with gangs. She referred
the tip to a member of the police force with jurisdiction to
investigate corruption. The investigator was murdered in June
Oseguera claims he was approached later in 2013 by a person
who offered him a job as a bill collector. Pena Oseguera
expressed interest but later declined the offer. At that
point, the person threatened to kill him. Pena Oseguera later
found out that the person was a gang member. Several days
later, Pena Oseguera's mother received two text messages
threatening her entire family. The messages noted that she
was a police officer and specifically mentioned Pena
Oseguera's parents quickly arranged for him to travel to
the United States. After he left, his mother received two
more messages threatening her family. She also stated that
over a year later, her home was shot up by unknown
assailants, who she suspected were the corrupt police
Oseguera applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and
relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). On June 6,
2016, the Immigration Judge (IJ) granted relief under CAT.
The IJ did not grant the asylum and withholding of removal
requests, finding that Pena Oseguera did not establish a
nexus between the alleged persecution and a legally
"protected ground." Pena Osegeura appealed, and the
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upheld the IJ's
determination on April 3, 2017. He then timely filed a
petition for review of the BIA's decision on May 3, 2017.
of appeals have exclusive jurisdiction to review final orders
of removal. 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(5) (2012). This court
usually only reviews the BIA's final decision, unless, as
in this instance, the BIA's decision is affected by the
IJ's decision. In that circumstance, we review both.
Sealed Petitioner v. Sealed Respondent, 829 F.3d
379, 383 (5th Cir. 2016). We review legal conclusions de novo
and factual findings for substantial evidence. Id.
applicant for asylum, Pena Oseguera must show that he is
"unable or unwilling to return" to his country of
origin "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of
persecution on account of race, religion, nationality,
membership in a particular social group, or political
opinion." 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42). Pena Oseguera
must also show a nexus - that the protected ground "was
or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the
applicant." Id. at § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i). A
central motive is not "incidental, tangential,
superficial, or subordinate to another reason for harm."
Shaikh v. Holder, 588 F.3d 861, 864 (5th Cir. 2009)
(quoting In re J-B-N & S-M, 24 I. & N. Dec.
208, 214 (BIA 2007)).
time we heard oral arguments in this case, Matter of
L-E-A- was pending before the Attorney General. 27 I.
& N. Dec. 581 (U.S. Att'y Gen. 2019). That case
directly took up the question of whether families qualified
as "social groups" for the purposes of refugee
status. We held this case in abeyance pending a
decision by the Attorney General. A decision has now been
published, and Matter of L-E-A stands for the
proposition that families may qualify as social
groups, but the decision must be reached on a case-by-case
basis. The "applicant must establish that his specific
family group is defined with sufficient particularity and is
socially distinct in his society." 27 I. & N. Dec.
581, 586 (U.S. ...