Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cordoba v. Holder (9th Cir. - Aug. 13, 2013)

I could be snarky and describe this morning's opinion by Judge Reinhardt as containing the following holding:

Rich people are a protected class and so can get asylum in the United States.

It'd be a pretty accurate description, too.

But I'll do slightly more than that.

Judge Reinhardt actually paints a pretty sympathetic picture of the plight of landholders in Mexico and, especially, Columbia.  There's a thriving business in kidnapping in both countries.  Often run by drug cartels in the former nation and, in the latter, by a rebel group (FARC).  If you're rich, you may well be targeted.  As amply demonstrated in these two cases.  Judge Reinhardt does a very good job of recounting the very detailed and exceptionally credible stories relayed by these two asylum petitioners.

Judge Reinhardt doesn't actually give 'em asylum.  Though I'm sure he thinks they're entitled to it.  The Ninth Circuit instead remands to the BIA.  Holding that being a landowner is indeed "membership in a particular social group" that may potentially entitle someone to asylum.

You don't typically think of Judge Reinhardt as a protector of the rich and powerful.  But when they're fleeing another country to escape persecution and abuse, he's more than happy to help out.