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Indiana Florentina Rodriguez-Matamoros v. Immigration and Naturalization Service

filed: June 17, 1996.


Petition to Review a Decision of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. INS Nos. A70-290-431, A70-290-445, A70-290-446.

Before: Arthur L. Alarcon, Robert R. Beezer, and Pamela Ann Rymer, Circuit Judges. Opinion By Judge Rymer.

Author: Rymer

RYMER, Circuit Judge:

Indiana Rodriguez-Matamoros and her two minor daughters, natives and citizens of Nicaragua, petition for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), denying their applications for asylum and withholding of deportation under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1158(a), 1253(h).*fn1 We have jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C. § 1105a(a). We conclude that Rodriguez has demonstrated past persecution and remand to the BIA for a determination of whether she is entitled to asylum as a matter of discretion.


The Immigration Judge (IJ) found that Rodriguez testified credibly, and the BIA made no findings of its own. Therefore the following is taken as true. Rodriguez and her family were supporters of former Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza. Two of Rodriguez's sisters were members of Somoza's National Guard and two other sisters worked for the Somoza government. In 1979, Sandinistas came to the Rodriguez home and dragged one of Rodriguez's sisters, Candida, a member of the National Guard, out of bed. The Sandinistas took her away from the house and tortured her. Candida managed to escape temporarily, but the Sandinistas pursued her back to the house, where they shot and killed her in front of Rodriguez and other members of the family. After killing Candida, the Sandinistas threatened to set the house on fire and burn the family alive. The Sandinistas were prevented from carrying out this threat only because neighbors intervened.

Subsequently, Rodriguez was denied food rations and a work permit because of her refusal to participate in Sandinista organizations. After imprisoning her for continuing to work without a permit, the Sandinistas told her that they would allow her to work only if she agreed to become an informant for the Sandinista government. Rodriguez refused and, after a few days, was released from prison. When Rodriguez returned home, Sandinista mobs broke into her house, painted pro-Sandinista slogans on the walls, and beat her and one of her sisters. Rodriguez's beating was so severe that her face remains scarred.

In 1989, Rodriguez and her two daughters fled Nicaragua and entered the United States without inspection. One of her sisters is a United States citizen and another has been granted asylum here. A third sister remains in Nicaragua. At her deportation hearing, Rodriguez admitted the factual allegations of the Order to Show Cause and conceded deportability. She applied for asylum and withholding of deportation and, in the alternative, for voluntary departure. The IJ denied the applications for asylum and withholding of deportation, but granted the application for voluntary departure. The BIA affirmed, and Rodriguez timely seeks review.


The Attorney General has discretion to grant asylum to an applicant who is unwilling to return to her native country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1158(a), 1101(a)(42)(A); Acewicz v. INS, 984 F.2d 1056, 1061 (9th Cir. 1993). "Eligibility for asylum may be based on past persecution alone." Acewicz, 984 F.2d at 1062 (citation omitted).

We review the BIA's determination of eligibility for substantial evidence, Del Valle v. INS, 776 F.2d 1407, 1412 (9th Cir. 1985), reversing "only if the evidence presented to the Board was so compelling that no reasonable factfinder could fail to find the requisite fear of persecution," Abedini v. INS, 971 F.2d 188, 191 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing INS v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 483-84, 117 L. Ed. 2d 38, 112 S. Ct. 812 (1992)). We review the decision to grant or deny asylum for abuse of discretion. Del Valle, 776 F.2d at 1412. "Although we have required the Board to provide more than mere conclusory statements, all that is necessary is a decision that sets out terms sufficient to enable us as a reviewing court to see that the Board has heard, considered, and decided." Villanueva-Franco v. INS, 802 F.2d 327, 330 (9th Cir. 1986) (internal citations and quotations omitted).


Rodriguez contends that she was subjected to past persecution and we agree.*fn2 Rodriguez credibly testified that she was severely beaten; that her home was vandalized; that she and her family were threatened with being burned alive; and that her sister was tortured, then killed in her presence. All of this happened on account of Rodriguez's political beliefs and those of her family. Under the circumstances, we are ...

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