Withholding Granted on Family-Based Social Group Claim in Arlington Immigration Court

An Immigration Judge granted withholding of removal for my Salvadoran client in the Arlington Immigration Court earlier this week. Withholding of removal requires that the applicant prove that it is more likely than not that he will be harmed should he be removed. And that at least one central reason for the claimed persecution is a protected ground (i.e. race, religion, ethnicity, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group). Over the course of a three hour hearing I was able to successfully argue that my client’s membership in his family qualified as a protected ground and that it is more likely than not that he will be persecuted by the transnational gang MS 13, as it had specifically persecuted his family.

Gang-based humanitarian claims can often be difficult to win these days in light of a series of bad precedential court decisions published over the last several years, including cases holding that resistance to gang recruitment is an insufficient basis for asylum or withholding. We proved this week, however, where gangs employ violent intimidation tactics in recruitment, if at least one central reason for the threats and attacks was to force members of a family to join the gang, that the persecution occurs on account of family membership.

Detained by ICE in the Farmville Detention Center for the duration of his removal proceedings, we were able to obtain our client’s release today. Withholding of removal protects my client from deportation. He may now remain in the United States with his wife and two children with employment authorization.

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