by Regina Cantu @ Matt.org
Even the most virulent protester against immigration can’t have people like Jose Luis Anguiano-Aguirre in mind. Last week, the Mexican National escaping the drug violence in Mexico won Withholding of Removal as a member of a social group that suffered past persecution — making him the first reporter to receive asylum since Mexico’s bloody drug war erupted and cartels began targeting the media to silence coverage.
In an unprecedented decision, the Immigration Judge granted withholding of removal pursuant to Section 241(b)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to a Mexican National targeted by the drug cartels in Mexico for his work against their drug trafficking activities.
As drug violence has worsened in Mexico, businesspeople, law enforcement figures, journalists and other professionals have been seeking refuge in the U.S. But individuals seeking refuge in this country face an uncertain future: If their asylum applications are rejected, they can be deported to Mexico, to face near-certain retaliation from the cartels. To avoid such a fate, they can try to strike a deal with U.S. authorities to provide information about drug trafficking in Mexico. Or they can try to remain in this country illegally. The U.S. receives nearly 3,000 asylum requests from Mexico each year, but just 252 of those cases were granted between 2005 and 2009, and government sources and immigration attorneys suggest the number of requests is increasing.
Despite the violence gripping Mexico, fear of being hurt isn’t sufficient grounds for asylum. Cases hinge on proving that a person is being persecuted because of race, religion, political views, nationality or membership in a particular social group.
The Immigration Judge found that because the Mexican National participated in and work with the Mexican police to prevent the trafficking of drugs into the United States, but was not a member of the Mexican police or could be associated with the law enforcement authorities, he met the requirements for persecution on account of a particular social group. The Immigration Judge in a twenty page opinion, detailed the evidence that supported the finding that the Mexican National should be granted relief pursuant to Section 241(b)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
In the opinion the Immigration Judge emphasized that the evidence shows that the Mexican National’s life or freedom would be threaten if returned to Mexico. In fact, the Immigration Judge pointed out that “the country conditions documentation in the record indicated that drug violence in Mexico has increased since [Mexican National] fled his country… as the brutality and violence used to silence individuals who are perceived to be against or interfering with the operations of the cartels.” The Immigration Judge stated that even internal relocation would be a problem because ” the country conditions documentation supports the proposition that many Mexican officials in law enforcement are corrupt and assisting the drug cartels.” Finally, the Immigration Judge reiterated that “drug related violence in Mexico is a countrywide phenomenon–since 2009,the Department of State has urged American citizens to use extreme caution when traveling to Mexico.
Because of the sensitive nature of this decision and the specific circumstances under which this decision was granted, further details regarding the decision have not been disclosed.
As the violence escalates in Mexico, Mexican Nationals who are victims of the criminal enterprise and the corrupt government officials should be given the opportunity to seek refuge in the United States. The Anguiano-Aguirre is a victory and precedent for those who are fleeing the violence.