Skip to main content


United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Maria Fernanda GONZALEZ-POLANCO, Christopher Mauricio Orellana-Gonzalez Petitioners, v. Jeffrey A. ROSEN, Acting United States Attorney General, Respondent.1


Decided: January 13, 2021

PRESENT: JOSÉ A. CABRANES, ROBERT D. SACK, WILLIAM J. NARDINI, Circuit Judges. FOR PETITIONERS: H. Raymond Fasano, Attorney, Youman, Madeo & Fasano, LLP, New York, NY. FOR RESPONDENT: Jeffery Bossert Clark, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Shelley R. Goad, Assistant Director; Kristin Moresi, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.


Petitioners Maria Fernanda Gonzalez-Polanco and her son Christopher Mauricio Orellana-Gonzalez, both natives and citizens of Guatemala, seek review of a December 3, 2018, decision of the BIA affirming an October 23, 2017, decision of an Immigration Judge (“IJ”) denying asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). In re Maria Fernanda Gonzalez-Polanco, Christopher Mauricio Orellana-Gonzalez, No. A XXX XX6 591/592 (B.I.A. Dec. 3, 2018), aff'g No. A XXX XX6 591/592 (Immig. Ct. New York City Oct. 23, 2017). We assume the parties’ familiarity with the underlying facts and procedural history.

We have reviewed the decision of the IJ as supplemented by the BIA. See Yan Chen v. Gonzales, 417 F.3d 268, 271 (2d Cir. 2005). The applicable standards of review are well established. See 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(4)(B); Paloka v. Holder, 762 F.3d 191, 195 (2d Cir. 2014) (reviewing factual findings for substantial evidence and questions of law de novo); Gjolaj v. Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 468 F.3d 140, 143 (2d Cir. 2006) (reviewing nexus determination for substantial evidence).

An asylum applicant must establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution and that “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.” 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i); see also Paloka, 762 F.3d at 195 (“the applicant must establish both that the group itself was cognizable and that the alleged persecutors targeted the applicant on account of her membership in that group” (internal citations and quotation marks omitted)). Although persecutors may have more than one motive, see Acharya v. Holder, 761 F.3d 289, 297 (2d Cir. 2014), “the protected ground cannot play a minor role ․ [t]hat is, it cannot be incidental, tangential, superficial, or subordinate to another reason for harm,” In re J-B-N- & S-M-, 24 I. & N. Dec. 208, 214 (B.I.A. 2007).

The agency reasonably determined that Gonzalez-Polanco failed to show that her membership in her proposed social group of single mothers without male protection was one central reason that gang members targeted her for extortion. Gonzalez-Polanco testified that gang members extorted her because they believed she had money from her partner in the United States. And she had no evidence that the gang members would have attempted to extort her if they did not think she could pay. Accordingly, the record reflects that the gang members’ motivation was financial gain, not to harm her on account of a protected ground. See Ucelo-Gomez v. Mukasey, 509 F.3d 70, 73 (2d Cir. 2007) (“When the harm visited upon members of a group is attributable to the incentives presented to ordinary criminals rather than to persecution, the scales are tipped away from considering those people a particular social group within the meaning of the INA.”); Melgar de Torres v. Reno, 191 F.3d 307, 314 (2d Cir. 1999) (“general crime conditions are not a stated ground” for asylum).

For the foregoing reasons, the petition for review is DENIED. All pending motions and applications are DENIED and stays VACATED.

Was this helpful?

Thank you. Your response has been sent.

Welcome to FindLaw's Cases & Codes

A free source of state and federal court opinions, state laws, and the United States Code. For more information about the legal concepts addressed by these cases and statutes visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law.

Go to Learn About the Law

Docket No: 19-30

Decided: January 13, 2021

Court: United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Get a profile on the #1 online legal directory

Harness the power of our directory with your own profile. Select the button below to sign up.

Sign up

Learn About the Law

Get help with your legal needs

FindLaw’s Learn About the Law features thousands of informational articles to help you understand your options. And if you’re ready to hire an attorney, find one in your area who can help.

Learn more about the law
Copied to clipboard