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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Honest Mexican Cop May|Qualify for U.S. Asylum

CHICAGO (CN) - A Mexican federal agent whom drug traffickers persecuted when he refused to take bribes deserves a job here, not a deportation order, the 7th Circuit ruled.

As a Mexican federal agent who refused to take bribes, R.R.D. arrested hundreds of suspects and repeatedly testified against drug traffickers, at great risk to his own life, the ruling states.

Under the "plata o plomo" - "silver or lead" - policy of drug cartels, the federal was wounded twice on duty, and was the target of an assassination attempt that wounded his father.

Though he left the service for his own safety, on the advice of supervisors, and he has concealed his former job, strangers continued looking for him.

R.R.D. then applied for asylum in the United States, claiming that he had been persecuted as a member of the social group of honest police officers.

The immigration judge and immigration appeals board both denied his request for asylum, finding that he would only be entitled to asylum if criminal organizations targeted all honest police officers.

But the 7th Circuit reversed the decision last week.

"The board must analyze rather than ignore material evidence," Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for a three-person panel. "Perhaps the board thinks that the risk R.R. D. faces as a former officer is too slight to satisfy the standard for asylum, but it did not say this."

Here, the board failed to consider that R.R.D. still faces threats to his life even though he is no longer employed as a federal agent. He is also especially vulnerable because so many members of the Mexican police force have taken the cartels' "silver."

The opinion closed by questioning the Department of Homeland Security's motive for deporting R.R.D.

"We wonder why the Department of Homeland Security wants to remove R.R.D. and his family," Easterbrook wrote. "The IJ [immigration judge] found that R.R.D. was an honest and effective police officer in Mexico, willing to bring criminals to justice at substantial risk to himself. He appears to have led an exemplary life in the United States since entering (lawfully) and applying for asylum. He appears to be someone who should be hired and put to work by the Department of Homeland Security itself, rather than sent packing. We do not supervise the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, but those who do have that power should review R.R.D.'s situation before renewing any effort to remove him." (Parentheses in original.)

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