S.E.R.L. v. Attorney General United States, No. 17-2031 (3d Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
S.E.R.L., a native of Honduras, fled to the U.S. in 2014 and unsuccessfully sought asylum and statutory withholding of removal based on membership in a proposed particular social group “immediate family members of Honduran women unable to leave a domestic relationship.” She fears persecution by Angel, who abducted, raped, and continues to stalk S.E.R.L.’s daughter, who has already been granted asylum. Orellana, S.E.R.L.’s stepfather, has repeatedly abused S.E.R.L.’s mother. An immigration judge found S.E.R.L. credible but concluded that S.E.R.L. had not met her burden to establish eligibility for relief. The IJ reasoned that Angel had targeted S.E.R.L.’s daughter, not her and that “her stepfather never physically harmed her.” The IJ stated that any harm she suffered was not on account of a protected ground; her proposed group “lack[ed] the requisite level of particularity and social distinction” under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42). The BIA dismissed an appeal. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review, citing the BIA’s three-part test for proving the existence of a cognizable particular social group, which requires applicants to establish that the group [at issue] is composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, defined with particularity, and socially distinct within the society in question. That interpretation is entitled to Chevron deference. Substantial evidence supports the BIA’s determination that S.E.R.L. has not met its requirements.