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Porras v. Holder

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

November 15, 2013

EDGAR JOSE SANCHEZ PORRAS; JANET C. GOITIA ROMAN; ERIC SANCHEZ GOITIA; KEVIN SANCHEZ GOITIA, Petitioners,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., United States Attorney General, Respondent

Petition for Review

Before MATHESON, Circuit Judge, PORFILIO, Senior Circuit Judge, and O'BRIEN, Circuit Judge.

ORDER AND JUDGMENT[*]

Scott M. Matheson, Jr. Circuit Judge

Petitioners are citizens and natives of Venezuela. Proceeding pro se, they seek review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) dismissing their appeal from the Immigration Judge (IJ)'s decision denying Mr. Sanchez's application for asylum and restriction on removal (No. 12-9516); and of the BIA's denial of their motion to reconsider the denial of their motion to reopen (13-9505).[1]We have consolidated their petitions for purposes of disposition. Exercising our jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252, we deny the petition in No. 12-9516 in part, and dismiss in part for lack of appellate jurisdiction; and we deny the petition in No. 13-9505.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioners legally entered the United States in 1999, remained after their authorized stay expired, and concede they are subject to removal for having overstayed their visas.

A. Petitioners' Applications

In October 2006, Mr. Sanchez filed an application for asylum, restriction on removal, and for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The other petitioners—who are his wife and children—are derivative asylum applicants. Petitioners claim refugee status based on their political opinion and their membership in a social group composed of "light-skinned people of middle or upper class status in Venezuela who oppose the current regime of Hugo Chávez and are Christians." Admin. R. at 343 (IJ oral decision).[2]

B. IJ Proceedings

At the IJ hearing, Mr. Sanchez testified to his American connections. He first came to the United States as a high school student and lived with an American family. He attended college in Rhode Island and graduated with a B.S. in computer system management. He returned to Venezuela and worked as an executive at various computer firms, then began his own business importing computer parts from the United States.

He and his family returned to the United States in 1999. He now runs a language interpreting company in this country. He is Christian and a member of a Pentecostal congregation.

Mr. Sanchez testified that Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998 with the support of "lower class citizens and the less economically prosperous people, " who constitute about eighty percent of the population. Id. at 335. He testified that wealthy people, like his family, are perceived as opponents of the Chávez regime. He said that President Chávez used epithets to describe rich Venezuelans and stated that "it's time to . . . be against the United States and everybody that was involved with [the] United States." Id. at 442 (Sanchez testimony). Mr. Sanchez also testified that President Chávez is against people who go to church.

In about 2000, President Chávez created the "Bolivarian Circles, " composed of groups that supported him and engaged in pro-Chávez activities. Mr. Sanchez alleges that President Chávez and the Bolivarian Circles discriminate against light-skinned Venezuelans on the basis of skin color.

In his testimony, Mr. Sanchez described an incident of alleged persecution that occurred after President Chávez was elected and before Mr. Sanchez left Venezuela. He was returning to his gated community in Caracas and some people pointed a gun in his face and screamed at him. This happened about two months before he left Venezuela for the United States. Around the same time, one of his neighbors was killed. In his asylum application, Mr. Sanchez also reported ...


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