Belsy Coto-Albarenga v. Merrick B. Garland


United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 20-2539 ___________________________ Belsy Lucila Coto-Albarenga lllllllllllllllllllllPetitioner v. Merrick B. Garland, Attorney General of the United States lllllllllllllllllllllRespondent ____________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals ____________ Submitted: April 13, 2021 Filed: July 12, 2021 ____________ Before SMITH, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges. ____________ SMITH, Chief Judge. Belsy Coto-Albarenga (“Coto”) entered the United States in 2014 without proper documentation. The Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against her. She conceded removability but sought asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. After a hearing, the immigration judge (IJ) found that Coto’s testimony was not credible and thus denied her relief from removal. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) affirmed the IJ’s decision. Coto petitions this court for review. We deny the petition. I. Background In 2014, Coto left Honduras and entered the United States through a port of entry. An asylum officer conducted a credible-fear interview. In the interview, Coto represented that she was fleeing an abusive boyfriend named Mayki. Eventually, the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against Coto. In turn, Coto sought asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. The IJ held a hearing in 2017 regarding Coto’s application. Coto testified at the hearing and presented documentary evidence, including her credible- fear worksheet from 2014; her I-589 asylum application, which she signed before the IJ; sworn personal statements from 2015 and 2017; medical records regarding her prior pregnancies; and a letter of support from her mother, who still lives in Honduras. Her testimony and documentary evidence provided the following details. At some point in the mid-2000s, Coto began a relationship with a man named Mayki. In Coto’s testimony and 2017 sworn statement, she said that the relationship began in 2004 soon after her son was born. But in her 2014 credible-fear interview, 2015 sworn statement, and I-589 application, she said that she and Mayki began a relationship in 2006. And in her 2017 sworn statement, Coto mentioned for the first time that she learned that Mayki was a member of a drug cartel after their relationship began. Coto and Mayki might have lived together during their relationship. In her 2014 credible-fear interview and her I-589 application, Coto asserted that she and Mayki lived together from 2006 until she left Honduras in 2014. At the hearing, however, she testified inconsistently. First, she said that she lived alone for the nine years before coming to the United States, which would have been from 2005 to 2014. -2- Later, she testified that she lived with Mayki from 2004 to 2008. Then, she claimed that Mayki never lived with her but only visited her a couple of days each month. Around 2009, Mayki began verbally, physically, and sexually abusing Coto. In her credible-fear interview, Coto claimed that Mayki began abusing her because she wanted to leave him for mistreating her. But in her 2015 and 2017 …

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