Portillo-Flores v. Garland, No. 19-1591 (4th Cir. 2021)

Partner Benjamin Osorio and Associate Alexandra Williams had a big win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit this week, changing asylum law for the better! The Fourth Circuit now recognizes a "child standard" for persecution such that "harm a child fears or has suffered . . . may be relatively less than that of an adult and still qualify as persecution." This is especially important given studies showing that more than 75% of children from Central American countries had at least one major mental health issue stemming from the harm they have suffered.

Other major holdings:

  • Death threats made to the applicant, even indirectly, qualify as persecution.
  • There is no requirement that an applicant, especially a child applicant, report their persecution to the police.
  • Deference is owed to the Board of Immigration Appeals' decisions, but only if their decisions are informed by "thoroughness evident in the [Board's] consideration" and "validity of its reasoning." In this case, neither the Immigration Judge nor the Board of Immigration Appeals provided thorough, valid reasoning for denying asylum to Mr. Portillo-Flores and they both ignored vital testimony and evidence.

Murray Osorio is thrilled to be on the cutting edge of asylum law and thanks our co-counsel, Mr. Paul Hughes of McDermott Will and Emery LLP, as well as six organizations that provided amicus briefs in support of our client. The full decision can be found here.

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