Urbina-Dore v. Holder, No. 13-1679 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Petitioners applied for asylum in the U.S., claiming that they had been persecuted as members of the “social group” of timberlands owners and would face risks if returned to Honduras. Organized squatters, “La Via Campesina,” invade agricultural lands and take over production; if they raise the national flag and assert that owners are not using the land, police and judges are unwilling to evict them. Timber lands remain out of production for years while trees mature, making them targets for campesinos, who cut and sell the timber. Petitioners assert that campesinos occupied their land in 2008 and that they fear for their lives should they return to assert ownership rights. An immigration judge denied asylum, finding (under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)(A)) that the past and feared future harm do not amount to persecution; that the squatters’ acts did not occur because of petitioners’ membership in any particular group but were for profit, with indifference to who was injured; and that the squatters’ acts could not be imputed to the government. The BIA concluded that the campesinos are thieves whose own interests, rather than antipathy toward petitioners, led to the invasion and that Honduras is willing and able to control the campesinos; after petitioners obtained a court order, officers did remove the squatters. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review.