Ramirez v. Sessions, No. 17-1414 (8th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
DHS detained Ramirez, a citizen of Guatemala, in 2014, after she illegally entered the U.S. Ramirez stated she feared a neighbor would kill her if she returned to Guatemala because he frequently asked her to have sex, and she refused; she reported this neighbor to the police after he attempted to rape another woman, but the police did not arrest him. Ramirez said this neighbor sent men to confront her at knifepoint, demanding money and threatening to kill her. Ramirez submitted her asylum application (completed with the help of an attorney) and represented herself pro se. The IJ denied the application, stating Ramirez feared a “personal and a potential criminal act,” not “persecution” or “torture” necessary for securing asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture relief. The written decision concluded that Ramirez failed to demonstrate either past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The decision repeatedly, erroneously, referred to Mexico and its caption charged Ramirez under the wrong statutory section. The BIA found “harmless error.” Ramirez argued the IJ’s hearing conduct violated procedural due process, failing to provide individualized consideration. The Eighth Circuit denied relief. The IJ gave Ramirez declined repeated opportunities to expound on her claim; on appeal, Ramirez failed to explain the evidence she might have offered had the IJ asked further questions. The BIA's order disavowed any errors and exercised the requisite independent judgment supported by substantial evidence.