Amaya-De Sicaran v. Barr, No. 18-1915 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Petitioner, a native and citizen of El Salvador, petitioned for review of the denial of her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner claimed asylum and withholding of removal on the grounds that she suffered persecution as a member of a particular social group: "married El Salvadoran women in a controlling and abusive domestic relationship."
The Fourth Circuit dismissed the petition in part because the court lacked jurisdiction over petitioner's numerous proposed social groups not presented to the agency. The court denied the petition for review on petitioner's asylum claim, holding that the Attorney General's ruling in Matter of A-B- is not arbitrary and capricious, and petitioner's social group runs afoul of the anti-circularity requirement. In this case, "married El Salvadoran women in a controlling and abusive domestic relationship" did not "exist independently of the harm asserted." Rather, the group was defined in terms of the very persecution alleged. Because petitioner's asylum claim fails, her claim for statutory withholding of removal must also fail under the heightened standard. Finally, petitioner's CAT claim failed because petitioner failed to establish that it is more likely than not that she would be tortured upon returning to El Salvador.