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Cortez-Mendez v. Whitaker

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

January 7, 2019

JOSE MARCIAL CORTEZ-MENDEZ, Petitioner,
v.
MATTHEW G. WHITAKER, Acting Attorney General, Respondent.

          Argued: September 25, 2018

          On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

         ARGUED:

          Melissa Jill Mitchell, LAW OFFICES OF PAUL A. SUHR, PLLC, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Cortez-Mendez.

          Robert Michael Stalzer, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

         ON BRIEF:

          Paul A. Suhr, LAW OFFICES OF PAUL A. SUHR, PLLC, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Cortez-Mendez.

          Chad A. Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Kiley Kane, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., for Respondent.

          Before WILKINSON and AGEE, Circuit Judges, and James P. JONES, United States District Judge for the Western District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

          AGEE, Circuit Judge.

         Jose Cortez-Mendez, a native and citizen of El Salvador, seeks review of an order from the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA"). The BIA dismissed his appeal following an immigration judge's ("IJ's") denial of his application for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3), and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture ("CAT"), 8 C.F.R. § 1208.16(c). For the reasons below, we deny the petition for review.

         I.

         Cortez-Mendez was born in El Salvador. His father, Marcial Cortez, is deaf and mute. People in El Salvador with these physical impairments have suffered routine ridicule and discrimination, despite the existence of anti-discrimination laws. See A.R. 422 (containing U.S. Dep't of State, El Salvador, 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices). Because of his disabilities, Marcial Cortez could not provide for his family and they moved in with Cortez-Mendez's aunt. Cortez-Mendez's mother also abandoned the family when he was seven because of the family's difficulties.

         As a teenager, MS-13 and MS-18 gang members began targeting Cortez-Mendez for gang recruitment. They harassed him and "threatened [him] with death, that if [he] did not become a gangster, they were going to kill [him]." A.R. 175. Despite this harassment, the gangs never physically harmed Cortez-Mendez or anyone in his family. ...


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