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United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Sonia ARGUIJO-ANARIBA, Petitioner, v. William P. BARR, United States Attorney General, Respondent.

17-149 NAC

Decided: March 27, 2019

PRESENT: JOHN M. WALKER, JR., ROBERT D. SACK, REENA RAGGI, Circuit Judges. FOR PETITIONER: Robert C. Ross, West Haven, CT. FOR RESPONDENT: Chad A. Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Paul Fiorino, Senior Litigation Counsel; Deitz P. Lefort, Trial Attorney, Office of Immigration Litigation, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.


Petitioner Sonia Arguijo-Anariba, a native and citizen of Honduras, seeks review of a BIA decision affirming an Immigration Judge’s (“IJ”) denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). In re Sonia Arguijo-Anariba, No. A206 625 565 (B.I.A. Dec. 20, 2016), aff’g No. A206 625 565 (Immig. Ct. Hartford May 16, 2016). We assume the parties’ familiarity with the underlying facts and procedural history in this case.

The BIA declined to reach the IJ’s adverse credibility determination, and we review only the determination made by the BIA. See Yang v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 426 F.3d 520, 522 (2d Cir. 2005). Therefore, we will assume, as the BIA did, petitioner’s credibility. Applying well-established standards of review, see 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b)(4)(B), Yanqin Weng v. Holder, 562 F.3d 510, 513 (2d Cir. 2009), we identify no error in the agency’s determination that Arguijo-Anariba failed to establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of a protected ground.

Arguijo-Anariba had to demonstrate that she experienced past persecution or feared future persecution on account of her “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i); id. § 1231(b)(3)(A). Asylum or withholding of removal “may be granted where there is more than one motive for mistreatment, as long as at least one central reason for the mistreatment is on account of a protected ground.” Acharya v. Holder, 761 F.3d 289, 297 (2d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). Harm motivated purely by wealth is not based on a protected ground. See Ucelo-Gomez v. Mukasey, 509 F.3d 70, 73–74 (2d Cir. 2007). An applicant asserting persecution based on a protected ground “must provide some evidence of [a persecutor’s motives], direct or circumstantial.” I.N.S. v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 483, 112 S.Ct. 812, 117 L.Ed.2d 38 (1992) (emphasis in original); see also Manzur v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., 494 F.3d 281, 291 (2d Cir. 2007).

Arguijo-Anariba sought asylum and withholding of removal based on her membership in two asserted social groups: landowners and female heads of households. Even assuming that these groups are cognizable under 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i), the agency reasonably determined that Arguijo-Anariba failed to demonstrate that her membership in those groups motivated the alleged harms. Specifically, she offered no direct or circumstantial evidence to demonstrate that she was, or will be, targeted based on her status as a landowner or as a head of household. See I.N.S. v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. at 483, 112 S.Ct. 812; see also Ucelo-Gomez v. Mukasey, 509 F.3d at 73 (“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’ ”).

Because Arguijo-Anariba failed to demonstrate past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of a protected ground, the agency did not err in denying her asylum and withholding of removal. See 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i); id. § 1231(b)(3)(A). Arguijo-Anariba does not challenge the agency’s denial of CAT relief.

For the foregoing reasons, the petition for review is DENIED. As we have completed our review, any stay of removal that the Court previously granted in this petition is VACATED, and any pending motion for a stay of removal in this petition is DISMISSED as moot. Any pending request for oral argument in this petition is DENIED in accordance with Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 34(a)(2), and Second Circuit Local Rule 34.1(b).

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