Leonardo AMARO-BORILLA, Petitioner, v. William P. BARR, Attorney General, Respondent.
Decided: February 05, 2020
Before: IKUTA and LEE, Circuit Judges, and MARBLEY,** District Judge.
Matthew G. Holt, Esquire, Attorney, Hurwitz Holt, APLC, San Diego, CA, for Petitioner Robert Dale Tennyson, Jr., Ph. D., Trial Attorney, DOJ - U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division/Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC, Chief Counsel ICE, Office of the Chief Counsel, Department of Homeland Security, San Francisco, CA, for Respondent
Leonardo Amaro-Borilla, a native and citizen of Mexico, petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeal’s decision affirming an Immigration Judge’s denial of: (i) his application for withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture; and (ii) his motion for recusal. We have jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1252, and we deny the petition.
1. We review the denial of withholding of removal and CAT relief for substantial evidence. See Silva-Pereira v. Lynch, 827 F.3d 1176, 1184 (9th Cir. 2016). We must deny the petition unless “the evidence not only supports a contrary conclusion, but compels it.” See id. (emphasis in original). Where, as here, the BIA “adopts the decision of the IJ,” we review “the IJ’s decision as if it were that of the BIA.” Abebe v. Gonzales, 432 F.3d 1037, 1039 (9th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).
Substantial evidence supports the IJ’s adverse credibility determination. First, the IJ’s determination that Amaro-Borilla embellished his testimony that he assisted a homicide prosecution is supported by record evidence showing that he disrupted the prosecution’s trial efforts by lying on the stand. Second, Amaro-Borilla’s testimony of being on the Mexican Mafia’s irrevocable death list is inconsistent with his admission of regular non-violent interactions with Mexican Mafia members. And third, his testimony regarding danger in Mexico does not compel a finding that drug cartels will be able to identify and target Amaro-Borilla. These deficiencies in Amaro-Borilla’s testimony undermine his claim that, if removed to Mexico, he will be harmed by cartel members at the behest of the Mexican Mafia due to his cooperation with law enforcement. See Singh v. Lynch, 802 F.3d 972, 975-77 (9th Cir. 2015) (adverse credibility determination supported by substantial evidence based on testimony’s “inherent implausibility” and “inconsistency with record evidence”).
Based on Amaro-Borilla’s insufficient testimony, the evidence does not compel a finding of probable persecution or torture in Mexico. See Tamang v. Holder, 598 F.3d 1083, 1094-95 (9th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, the BIA did not err in affirming the denial of withholding of removal and CAT relief.
2. We review de novo the denial of a motion for recusal. See Vargas-Hernandez v. Gonzales, 497 F.3d 919, 921-25 (9th Cir. 2007). Recusal is warranted only if the IJ demonstrated “a deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible.” See id. at 925 (quoting Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555, 114 S.Ct. 1147, 127 L.Ed.2d 474 (1994)).
Amaro-Borilla is unable to satisfy this standard. The IJ’s comments regarding Amaro-Borilla’s credibility reflect no “deep-seated” bias, the reference to Amaro-Borilla’s gang membership was relevant to the plausibility of his testimony, and the referral of his recusal motion to the disciplinary committee was based on a concern regarding forum shopping. Amaro-Borilla’s claim of bias is further undermined by the fact that the IJ sua sponte reopened proceedings after Amaro-Borilla presented new evidence, affording him a second opportunity to provide testimony. Because nothing in the record suggests that that a “fair judgment” was “impossible,” the denial of recusal was proper. See id.
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