(CN) – A young Honduran man who said he feared retribution after refusing to join a Central American gang does not qualify for asylum, the 9th Circuit ruled.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco deferred to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which ruled that young Salvadoran men who have resisted recruitment into the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang do not constitute a particular social group, and that refusal to join does not amount to a political opinion.
A three-judge panel denied asylum and withholding of removal to petitioner Erik Ramos-Lopez, who claimed MS-13 members threatened to kill him for refusing to join.
“The gang targets a wide swath of society, and we have no evidence before us that they target young men with any particular political orientation, interests, lifestyle or any other identifying factors,” Judge Tashima wrote. “Thus, it was reasonable for the BIA to conclude that the group was not sufficiently particular.”