PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION
MacMurray and MacMurray & Associates on brief for
H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, U.S.
Department of Justice, Jessica E. Burns, Senior Litigation
Counsel, Office of Immigration Litigation, and John F.
Stanton, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, on
brief for respondent.
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Selya, Circuit Judges.
bad enough when acts in the nature of persecution are
employed to chill the free expression of political opinion.
It exacerbates the problem though, when a reviewing tribunal
turns such acts upside down and heralds their chilling effect
as "proof" that no likelihood of persecution
exists. Because the agency's decision in this case rests
upon just such an error, we grant the petition for judicial
review, vacate the decision below, and remand for further
petitioner, Flemi Barnodis Rodríguez-Villar, is a
Dominican national. The immigration judge (IJ) found him
credible, so we draw the background facts largely from his
petitioner entered the United States, without documentation,
in 2003. In 2011, he returned to the Dominican Republic to
care for his ailing father. Around May of that year, he
opened a supermarket and soon began hosting meetings of the
Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) at his store. In short
order, he began receiving telephone calls from members of the
opposition party - the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) -
which at that time controlled the government. The callers
warned him that if he continued to host PRD meetings at his
store, he and his family would be harmed.
petitioner did not yield. A few weeks later, his home was
ransacked and messages were written on the walls threatening
him and his family with harm unless he stopped hosting PRD
meetings. The petitioner reported this incident to the
police, who told him that they would investigate in exchange
for money and liquor from his store. Even though the
petitioner complied, the police did nothing. The meetings
continued and so did the mistreatment. The petitioner moved
his family into a new home in a different neighborhood. Soon
thereafter, that house was broken into, many of his
appliances were stolen, and another threat of violence was
scrawled on a wall.
came to a head several months later. As the petitioner was
closing his store for the day, he was set upon and beaten by
two men. His attackers admonished that if he did not stop
hosting PRD meetings, he "knew what was going to
happen." The men added that he should "get ready
because of what they were going to do to [his] family."
for his family's safety, the petitioner sent his wife and
daughter to the United States. He remained in the Dominican
Republic but stopped hosting the PRD meetings and "had
to abandon [his] business" because "[i]t was no
longer safe to be there." Once he cut those ties with
the PRD, he experienced no further threats or violence.
November of 2012, the petitioner traveled to the United
States to rejoin his family. He entered the United States
without documentation and surrendered himself to Border
Patrol agents in Texas, explaining that he feared he would be
persecuted if he returned to the Dominican Republic. After an
interview, an asylum officer determined that the petitioner
had a credible fear of harm in his homeland. The petitioner
was paroled into the United States. The Department of
Homeland Security proceeded to institute removal proceedings
against him, charging him as removable under 8 U.S.C. §
1182(a)(7)(A)(i)(I). The petitioner countered by filing
cross-applications for withholding of removal and protection
under the United Nations Convention Against Torture
the petitioner's case came on for hearing before the IJ,
he conceded removability. After taking testimony, the IJ
denied the petitioner's applications for relief and
ordered his removal. The petitioner repaired to the Board of
Immigration Appeals (BIA), which affirmed the IJ's
decision. This timely petition for judicial review followed.
immigration context, judicial review typically focuses on the
final decision of the BIA. See Murillo-Robles v.
Lynch, 839 F.3d 88, 91 (1st Cir. 2016). But where
"the BIA merely adds its gloss to the IJ's findings