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Week 44 (2020)

Week of October 26, 2020 through October 30, 2020

Sicaran v. Barr (Wilkinson, 10/30/2020): Sicaran v. Barr (Wilkinson, 10/30/2020): The Fourth Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the petitioner’s arguments that she belonged to certain social groups, to gain asylum, under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The petitioner failed to raise those arguments before the Immigration Judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals and, therefore, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the petitioner’s claims were not exhausted.

Additionally, the court held that “married El Salvadoran women in a controlling and abusive domestic relationship” was not a cognizable social group because the group failed to satisfy the anti-circularity principle. To satisfy the anti-circularity principle, the underlying persecution cannot define the particular social group. In applying that principle, the court explained that the petitioner’s “proffered group— ‘married El Salvadoran women in a controlling and abusive domestic relationship’ —is a clear example of impermissibly defining the group by the underlying persecution.” And it went on to write that “if [the petitioner’s] group is defined by the abuse she suffered in her relationship, the nexus requirement is unacceptably reduced to a mere tautology.”

The Fourth Circuit also held that petitioner failed to meet the high evidentiary burden under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) since domestic strife cannot fall under the umbrella of torture because there is no governmental acquiescence. The court therefore dismissed in part for lack of jurisdiction and denied the remainder of the petition. Full Opinion

Miles Reynolds