749 F.3d 785 (9th Cir. 2014), 12-73781, Garcia v. Holder

Docket Nº:12-73781
Citation:749 F.3d 785
Opinion Judge:GOULD, Circuit Judge
Party Name:RITA MARIA CARRION GARCIA, AKA Maria Burgos Martinez, AKA Maria Castillo, AKA Maralena Castillo Cruz, Petitioner, v. ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General, Respondent
Attorney:Kari E. Hong, Supervising Attorney, and Mackenzie Houck and Marija Ozolins (argued), Student Counsel, Boston College Law School, Newton, Massachusetts, for Petitioner. Tiffany L. Walters (argued), Ernesto H. Molina, Jr., Assistant Director, and Dana M. Camilleri, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigra...
Judge Panel:Before: J. Clifford Wallace, M. Margaret McKeown, and Ronald M. Gould, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 16, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 785

749 F.3d 785 (9th Cir. 2014)

RITA MARIA CARRION GARCIA, AKA Maria Burgos Martinez, AKA Maria Castillo, AKA Maralena Castillo Cruz, Petitioner,

v.

ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Attorney General, Respondent

No. 12-73781

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 16, 2014

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California March 11, 2014

Page 786

On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Agency No. A201-280-642.

Kari E. Hong, Supervising Attorney, and Mackenzie Houck and Marija Ozolins (argued), Student Counsel, Boston College Law School, Newton, Massachusetts, for Petitioner.

Tiffany L. Walters (argued), Ernesto H. Molina, Jr., Assistant Director, and Dana M. Camilleri, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation; and Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

Before: J. Clifford Wallace, M. Margaret McKeown, and Ronald M. Gould, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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GOULD, Circuit Judge

Petitioner Rita Maria Carrion Garcia, a native of the Dominican Republic, petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (" BIA" ) decision affirming the denial of her application for withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (" CAT" ). We have jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(1), and we deny the petition for review.

I

Carrion Garcia gives the following account of her personal history. She was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where she lived with her parents until age twenty-two, when she moved to live separately with her children. Carrion Garcia's relationship with the children's father ended in 2001, but her children moved to the United States to live with him in July 2010 after a robbery at Carrion Garcia's home.

Carrion Garcia met Ernesto Valdez in 2007, and they began dating. Their relationship became intimate in 2008, and she moved in with him in August 2010, after her children had already moved to the United States. Their relationship began to change in October 2010 when he started swearing at her, calling her a " prostitute," and spending time with new friends who were using drugs. Valdez began physically abusing Carrion Garcia in November 2010. The abuse was extreme. He would hit her and kick her in the ribs and stomach, and would rape and sodomize her when he returned home drunk.

Valdez threatened Carrion Garcia, saying that he would kill her if she left him or filed a police report against him. Ashamed of the abuse and concerned by

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the threats made by Valdez, Carrion Garcia did not consider filing a police report challenging his abuse. Carrion Garcia also knew of a neighbor who had been abused by her husband. When the neighbor called the police, her husband was only held in jail until the next day when he returned home and hit her again.

In January 2011, Carrion Garcia left Valdez to escape the abuse. She traveled to three separate locations in the countryside over the course of several weeks, staying with friends and family, and each time Valdez found her, apologized, and begged for her forgiveness. When she refused his entreaties to return with him to Santo Domingo, he became " furious," threatened her, and frightened her.

Following the third such encounter, Carrion Garcia returned to her mother's home, and her mother helped gather money from relatives for Carrion Garcia to leave the Dominican Republic. Because Carrion Garcia had a six-month visa for Mexico, she decided to travel to Toluca, Mexico, with a friend. They later traveled to Nogales, Mexico, where Carrion Garcia was unable to find employment, and she decided to enter the United States.

Carrion Garcia was caught trying to enter the United States four times. She first entered the United States in May 2011 by crossing a border fence, and was caught by Customs and Border Protection (" CBP" ) officers. A CBP officer who spoke Spanish interviewed her, and she did not have difficulty conversing with him. She gave the CBP officer a false name, date of birth, and claimed that she was Mexican. Carrion Garcia later testified that she gave false information so that she would not be returned to Santo Domingo. She was removed to Mexico. Fifteen days later she crossed the border again and was immediately apprehended by CBP officers. Carrion Garcia gave the same false information to the Spanish-speaking CBP officer who interviewed her, and claimed that her parents were Mexican citizens. The same events transpired on her third attempted entry into the United States.

On her fourth attempt to enter the United States, Carrion Garcia was again apprehended by CBP officers, and interviewed by a Spanish-speaking officer. She gave again false identifying information, and was taken to Tucson where she was detained for three days. Carrion Garcia then appeared in U.S. District Court represented by a Spanish-speaking attorney. Carrion Garcia gave her attorney a false name and told her she was from Mexico. A Spanish interpreter was also present during her court appearance, and Carrion Garcia acknowledged that she understood both her attorney and the proceedings. Although the district court judge told Carrion Garcia that she must tell the truth, Carrion Garcia gave the false name to the judge and said that she was from Mexico so that she would not be sent back to the Dominican Republic. Carrion Garcia was convicted of illegal reentry and spent thirty days in jail, after which she was returned to Nogales. However, a Mexican border patrol officer who reviewed her information discovered that Carrion Garcia was not from Mexico. She then claimed that she was from El Salvador, and was brought to the detention center in Eloy, Arizona.

After a " reasonable fear" interview, the Department of Homeland Security referred Carrion Garcia's withholding of removal application to an immigration judge (" IJ" ). Carrion Garcia presented additional evidence to support her withholding of removal and CAT claims, including: her mother's affidavit, a police report filed by her mother on June 2, 2012, and an affidavit " from a third person who resided in the Dominican Republic" and who now lives in

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New York. Also, Carrion Garcia submitted the expert testimony of Dr. Wayne Westhoff regarding family violence and women's health in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Westhoff testified that domestic violence in the Dominican Republic is widespread, and that police are " uninterested in being of assistance because of the cultural aspect of not interfering with domestic or family issues." A country report submitted by Carrion Garcia supports Dr. Westhoff's expert opinions. After a hearing and in consideration of the evidence presented, the IJ found that Carrion Garcia was not credible, and denied her application for withholding of removal and protection under the CAT. The BIA affirmed the denial of relief.

II

We review factual findings, including adverse credibility determinations, for substantial evidence. Shrestha v. Holder, 590 F.3d 1034, 1048 (9th Cir. 2010). Factual findings " are conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude to the contrary." 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(4)(B); see Smolniakova v. Gonzales, 422 F.3d 1037, 1044 (9th Cir. 2005). This standard is very deferential, requiring only " such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion," Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (citation omitted). Because the BIA affirmed the IJ's findings of fact while adding its own reasons, we review both decisions. Chand v. INS, 222 F.3d 1066, 1072 n.7 (9th Cir. 2000). We review questions of law de novo. De Martinez v. Ashcroft, 374 F.3d 759, 761 (9th Cir. 2004).

III

We...

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