In a significant decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the court, sitting en banc, restored a gay Mexican citizen’s application for asylum, which alleged that the Mexican government failed to protect him from past persecution for being gay. The majority, in a 9-2 decision, reversed a prior Ninth Circuit three-judge panel as well as the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and an Immigration Judge (IJ) to hold that the applicant, Carlos Bringas-Rodriquez, had presented sufficient evidence to establish past persecution and the Mexican government’s inability or unwillingness to control the persecution. The decision, Bringas-Rodriguez v. Sessions, 2017 WL 908546 (9th Cir. Mar. 8, 2017), notably overruled prior Ninth Circuit precedent, which had imposed heightened evidentiary requirements on asylum applicants for proving past persecution.
Bringas was born in Tres Valles, Veracruz, Mexico. As a young child, Bringas was abused by his father, an uncle, cousins, and a neighbor, who, according to Bringas, “perceived him to be gay or to exhibit effeminate characteristics.” Bringas testified that at as early as four years old, his uncle began raping him on a regular basis. Three of his male cousins and a neighbor also began sexually abusing Bringas. In addition to the sexual abuse, Bringas’ father began physically abusing him because of his effeminate nature, telling him, “Act like a boy. You are not a woman.”