Second Circuit releases decision in favor of Guatemalan asylum-seeker

Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals released a favorable decision in the case of Mario Ordonez Azmen, an asylum-seeker from Guatemala who was represented by HIRC Albert M. Sacks Clinical Teaching & Advocacy Fellow Zachary Albun. Stacy Taeuber and Benjamin Casper Sanchez of the Federal Immigration & Litigation Clinic at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Chuck Roth of the National Immigrant Justice Center served as co-counsel. In its decision, the Second Circuit recognized that, in light of the plain text of the Immigration and Nationality Act, “changed circumstances may first arise even while an otherwise untimely application is pending.” The Court additionally reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) determination that Mr. Ordonez Azmen’s asserted “particular social group” was legally insufficient. The Court rejected the BIA’s “general rule, untied to any specific country or society, that groups consisting of ‘former gang members’ are insufficiently particularized.” The court remanded Mr. Ordonez Azmen’s asylum application, as the “BIA [had] not adequately explain[ed] its conclusion that Ordonez Azmen’s proposed social group of former gang members in Guatemala was not particular,” or “its reasons for denying Ordonez Azmen’s motion to remand based on evidence of new country conditions.”

You can read the full decision here.