Rivas-Pena v. Sessions
900 F.3d 947 (7th Cir. 2018)
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals/h4>

Chicago Immigration Advocates Law Offices, through Attorney Carla I. Espinoza, represented Mr. Rivas before the Immigration Court as well as at the Court of Appeals on a Petition for Review. Mr. Rivas sought protection under CAT to avoid being killed by one of the Mexican drug cartels if he were removed to Mexico. The Immigration Court said that Mr. Rivas’ claim was merely “speculative” and summarily dismissed his case. The Petition for Review prepared by Ms. Espinoza argued that an Immigration Judge’s mere assertion of “speculation” does not meet the standard under CAT and that the regulation requires any decision must to be supported by “substantial evidence.” The Court found that the evidence, supported by expert testimony from a university professor who studies Mexican drug gangs, was that Mr. Rivas’ loss of nearly $900,000 in contraband would have resulted in his death by the gang if he were returned to Mexico and, thus, reversed the decision of the Immigration Court.

Ms. Espinoza’s work creates important legal precedent which impacts how immigration courts as well as circuit courts throughout the country will adjudicate cases for non-citizens seeking CAT protection by clarifying the correct legal standards to be applied.