Guzman-Hernandez v. United States (USA)

Leonilo Guzman-Hernandez, a citizen of Mexico, illegally entered the United States without inspection in 2008. In July 2010, the Department of Homeland Security issued Petitioner a notice to appear, charging him as removable for having entered the United States without being admitted or paroled by an immigration officer. Petitioner conceded that he was removable as charged and filed an application for withholding of removal based on his membership in a particular social group—homosexuals.

According to his credible testimony, Guzman-Hernandez’ sexual orientation became readily apparent when he was seven years old and, at this time, his parents began to mistreat him. His parents tried to change him by making him work on the family’s small parcel of farmland from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and only provided him with one meal a day. His parents also beat him and were verbally abusive. His half-brother and sister also mistreated him by verbally harassing him. When Guzman-Hernandez was seven years old, an 18-year-old neighbor raped him. Guzman-Hernandez never told anyone because he was ashamed, he thought his parents would beat him if they found out, and the neighbor threatened to beat and kill him if he said anything. Guzman-Hernandez further testified that he had lived in the small, rural town of Tlamamala, Hidalgo, Mexico and the police in town “mistreated [him] with words.” Guzman-Hernandez’ neighbors would tell him that he should not be gay and that he shamed his parents. Because of these statements by neighbors, his parents beat him. At school, Guzman-Hernandez’ classmates pushed him, but the teacher did not do anything about it.

When he was 18 years old, Guzman-Hernandez moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Guzman-Hernandez worked in five or six different restaurants, but he was fired from all of them when his sexual orientation was discovered. After living in Monterrey for two years, Guzman-Hernandez returned to his hometown to work in the fields and financially support his parents. Guzman-Hernandez lived with and was able to support his parents for seven years before coming to the United States. He decided to come to the United States because his parents continued to mistreat him despite the fact that he was supporting them financially.

The immigration court ordered him removed and Guzman-Hernandez appealed the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Guzman-Hernandez did not dispute that he is removable as charged, but contended that the Board of Immigration Appeals erred in finding that he had not established that (1) his rape was on account of his sexual orientation; (2) the cumulative effect of the incidents he experienced amounted to past persecution, and (3) he would more likely than not be persecuted if returned to Mexico based on his sexual orientation. The federal appellate court affirmed the BIA determination, noting that because he did not establish past persecution, there is no presumption that he would more likely than not be persecuted in the future.

Guzman-Hernandez v. United States