Pirir-Boc v. Holder, No. 09-73671 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Petitioner sought review of the BIA's order vacating the IJ's grant of asylum based on his well-founded fear of persecution as a member of a particular social group. The BIA concluded that petitioner's purported social group, individuals taking concrete steps to oppose gang membership and gang authority, lacked the requisite particularity and social visibility. The court then issued an en banc decision, Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder, holding that witnesses who testify against gang members may be cognizable as a particular social group for the purposes of asylum. The BIA then issued two published decisions clarifying its interpretation of the phrase "particular social group": Matter of W-G-R-, and Matter of M-E-V-G-. The court concluded that, in this instance, the BIA did not perform the required evidence-based inquiry as to whether the relevant society recognizes petitioner's proposed social group. The BIA failed to consider how Guatemalan society views the proposed group, and did not consider the society-specific evidence submitted by petitioner. Because it was not clear to the court from the record whether the evidence presented by petitioner was sufficient to meet the revised standard in W-G-R- and M-E-V-G-, the court remanded the petition to the BIA to consider petitioner's asylum claim in light of those decisions. Because petitioner's claims for withholding of deportation was denied solely on the basis of his failure to satisfy the burden required for asylum, that claim was also remanded. The court advised the BIA to consider the petition in light of Henriquez-Rivas, which addressed a group comparable to petitioner's proposed group and found it to be potentially cognizable. The court remanded petitioner's Convention Against Torture (CAT) claim to the BIA for reconsideration. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review and remanded for further consideration.