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May 27, 2014

Ms. Davila is a Mexican national seeking asylum because she received death threats and faces persecution due to her demands for government accountability in connection to cartel violence.  Ms. Davila’s two teenage nephews were killed in Ciudad Juarez during a massacre by cartel gunmen.  Though the massacre occurred close to a military barracks, no law enforcement officers intervened during the attack or responded afterwards.  On the contrary, ambulances were prevented from accessing the scene and families of the victims had to transport the wounded to hospitals.  Immediately after the massacre, the Mexican president publicly stated that the victims, who were innocent students, had been gang members and criminals.  Devastated by the murders and furious about the government’s response, Ms. Davila became an activist against the violence in Ciudad Juarez and publicly criticized the government for colluding with cartels.  She gave more than 100 interviews with the media and participated in protests and demonstrations against the government.  Ms. Davila soon began receiving death threats and during a protest at a federal building she was assaulted by a soldier. Though Ms. Davila was later provided with guards from the Mexican government, she came to realize the guards were there to monitor her, rather than protect her. Ms. Davila ultimately fled to the United States, where she applied for asylum and withholding of removal.

Despite finding that Ms. Davila was credible and that the threats she received were connected to her political activities, the Immigration Judge denied Ms. Davila protection. The Judge held that Ms. Davila hadn’t suffered past persecution and that she did not have a well-founded fear of future persecution because she had not established that the government was unable or unwilling to protect her. The BIA adopted and affirmed the IJ’s decision. 

Ms. Davila timely filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and argued the BIA ignored and misapprehended key evidence, including country condition reports and an expert affidavit.  Ms. Davila asserted the IJ and BIA did not draw reasonable inferences from the evidence it did consider.   Upon receipt of Ms. Davila’s opening brief, the government declined to defend the BIA decision and, instead, sought remand to the BIA.  The Court granted the government’s unopposed motion to remand on April 30, 2014.  Ms. Davila was represented by Lisa Koop and Chuck Roth of the National Immigrant Justice Center and James Morsch of Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP.