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Martinez-Lopez v. Barr

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 4, 2019

ROSA ALBA MARTINEZ-LOPEZ; JOSAFAT NAHUM SIERRA-MARTINEZ, Petitioners
v.
WILLIAM P. BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent

          Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals

          Before JOLLY, SMITH, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.

          PER CURIAM

         Rosa Alba Martinez-Lopez, on behalf of herself and her minor son Josafat Nahum Sierra-Martinez, seeks review of a Board of Immigration Appeals decision affirming the denial of their requests for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). We deny the petition.

         I.

         Martinez-Lopez and her son are from Honduras. They entered the United States without documentation in October 2015. Each received a notice to appear before an immigration judge (IJ), but the notices stated that the date and time of the appearance were "To Be Determined." A later notice provided a date and a time for a hearing in Houston. Martinez-Lopez and her son appeared at the prescribed time and place.

         At a subsequent hearing before the IJ, Martinez-Lopez admitted through counsel that she and her son were inadmissible aliens. She applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the CAT.

         In support of her application, Martinez-Lopez related the following instances of violence and harassment against her and her family in Honduras. Her brother was murdered after dropping off his son at school. The police did not investigate his murder, even though Martinez-Lopez's family filed a police report. A month later, several of Martinez-Lopez's relatives were killed too. This time, police arrested a gang member. Martinez-Lopez also noted that her father was killed over twenty years ago, and the police never investigated his murder.

         Martinez-Lopez testified that the harassment of her family continued after her brother's murder. For example, men in a truck followed Martinez-Lopez, her mother, and her sisters. Even after Martinez-Lopez relocated to the United States, men followed her mother and sisters on at least one other occasion. They have not, however, encountered any problems in over a year. They now live in another part of Honduras.

         Finally, Martinez-Lopez said that gang members harassed her at the cell phone store where she worked in Honduras. She testified that they came to the store five days a week and demanded that she and other employees hand over SIM cards. The gang members threatened to kill the store employees and their families if they did not cooperate. Again, the police took no action.

         As a result of these events, Martinez-Lopez fears returning to Honduras because she believes the "people who killed [her] brother and the gang members who made [her] program the sim cards" would find and kill her.

         The IJ denied Martinez-Lopez's application. Although she found Martinez-Lopez to be credible, the judge determined that Martinez-Lopez's testimony did not satisfy the requirements for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the CAT. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the IJ's decision without opinion. Martinez-Lopez timely petitioned this court for review.

         II.

         Because the Board affirmed the IJ's decision without opinion, the IJ's decision is the final agency determination subject to our review. See Soadjede v. Ashcroft, 324 F.3d 830, 832 (5th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). We review an IJ's factual determinations for substantial evidence, overturning a finding only when the ...


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