A dissident facing death threats in Nicaragua is granted asylum

Mario Rajib Flores Molina put a lot on the map to protest corruption in the government and illiberal a regime in his native Nicaragua facing vandalism, beatings and death threats. He eventually sought security in the United States only so that the Federal Immigration Council could say that his ill-treatment had not “reached the level of past persecution,” as death threats were not “particularly threatening.” . He ordered his transfer to Nicaragua. But last week the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th District said the council did not deny him asylum.

In 2018, an opposition movement mobilized to protest against the regime of President Daniel Ortega and pension reforms that taxes are rising and benefits are falling. In response, the Nicaraguan parliament passed a law allowing the government to prosecute protesters as terrorists. In the ensuing repression, government officials killed hundreds.

Flores Molina took to the streets of Estelle, Nicaragua, to join demonstrations where police and paramilitaries regularly shot and killed protesters. His repeated participation eventually put him in the sights of civil servants. They pointed him out on social media and threatened him with imprisonment in a installation known for the brutal torture of political dissidents.

He has twice fled to places he believes are safer in Nicaragua, but government supporters have found him both times. During the second meeting, six members of the pro-Ortega Sandinista youth beat him, warning: “This is happening to those who want to be part of the coup. We’ll kill you at the next meeting. He knew he had to leave Nicaragua forever. Flores Molina traveled to the US-Mexico border, introduced herself at the port of entry and sought asylum.

Those who meet the conditions for asylum in the United States, one can qualify if “they have been persecuted or are afraid that they will be persecuted because of” political opinion, as Flores Molina did. Immigration Judge found his testimony “in accordance with the statement he made in support of his request for relief”, but states that he did not demonstrate persecution in the past or a well-founded fear of future persecution. This did not mean that Flores Molina had not been threatened or abused – just that these experiences did not qualify as persecution “for asylum and detention.”

He also appealed in November 2019. The Immigration Appeals Board (BIA) struck another blow at his asylum case, saying the threats he faced were not “extreme” or “particularly threatening”, necessary to establish persecution in the past. ” It also cited the relatively small number of political activists detained in Nicaragua and the fact that “he was physically assaulted only once” to refute Flores Molina’s allegations of persecution.

After reviewing the BIA decision, the 9th district concluded last week that Flores Molina’s past experiences were in fact persecution. He was forced to flee his home three times after being attacked for his political views, had credible attempts at death threats and violent confrontations with government officials, and was threatened in an escalating manner “against a well-documented background. the violent regime of Ortega repression against members of the political opposition, “9th round wrote.

“Any reasonable judge would be forced to accept that the multiple and specific death threats Flores Molina has experienced, in the face of the violence and threatening confrontations he has been subjected to, constitute persecution,” the statement said. reads. BIA’s refusals to seek asylum and detention have already been returned for further consideration, and Flores Molina may ask BIA to return his case to an immigration judge to apply for legal status in the United States.

The opinion of the 9th district indicated several failures and omissions on the part of BIA. “The board quotes the recording selectively, relying on two news reports on the release of 100 prisoners from the Ortega regime and its intention to release more to support its claim that Flores Molina’s fear of future persecution is speculative.” explains. He also ignores documentation of poor conditions of detention and abuse of political dissidents. “Furthermore, the Board has failed to discuss whether the multiple death threats and threats of violence facing Flores Molina are sufficient to instill a well-founded fear of future persecution.

Flores Molina’s initial hearing and appeal took place during the Trump administration. Former President Donald Trump extended BIA from 17 to 23 seats, with its administration selecting judges according to its immigration priorities. “Data from 2019 reveal that the six immigration judges nominated by Attorney General William Barr to serve as board members have a terrible asylum rate, averaging just 2.4 percent.” According to to Gregory Chen, senior director of government relations with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Biden officials are now working to repeal some of the harmful legal policies introduced by Trump-era attorneys general – less visible than controversial measures such as the border wall and family separation, but still harm the due process and punish people. seeking asylum on American soil. Last June, Attorney General Merrick Garland discarded rules that made it difficult for victims of domestic or gang violence, as well as family members of at-risk individuals, to meet asylum requirements.

Flores Molina’s search for asylum has been revived after years of legal debate over the persecution she faces in Nicaragua. Despite this victory, last week’s view is a reminder that immigration courts are deeply shaped by the broader political climate and discretion of those who work in them.

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