Published September, 2016

Lopez v. Lynch, 810 F.3d 484 (7th Cir. 2016)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture (CAT) relief for an HIV-positive Mexican man. The Department of Homeland Security recommended Lopez, a Mexican citizen who has lived in the United States for over 20 years, be removed from the country after he plead guilty to one count of dealing cocaine over 3 grams. Seeking to remain in the U.S., Lopez established a credible fear of persecution or torture, based on his HIV status and sexual orientation, if he were to return to Mexico.

However, the Immigration Judge and subsequent Board of Immigration Appeals denied relief because of the severity of his crime and the likelihood he would indeed face torture upon removal. The 7th Circuit’s opinion affirming denial of asylum and withholding of removal hinged on the fact that Lopez’s crime was “a particularly serious crime,” an aggravated felony under federal law. The Court affirmed denial of CAT relief because it did not find it more likely than not that Lopez would face torture if returned to Mexico.