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Jenner & Block, with Partner Matthew E. Price taking the lead on writing the briefs and arguing the case, recently won an important pro bono victory in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, representing a former Mexican police officer seeking asylum in the United States. As an officer, R.R.D. had arrested hundreds of suspects and repeatedly testified against drug traffickers. The cartels then targeted him for assassination under their “silver or lead” (money or bullets) policy, in which the cartels kill honest and effective police officers who refuse to accept bribes. Even after he quit the Federal Agency of Investigation and opened an office-supply business and tried to conceal his identity, strangers continued looking for him. The immigration judge denied R.R.D.’s application for asylum and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) agreed, on the grounds that the cartels’ desire to retaliate against him was personal in nature and that R.R.D. had failed to establish a well-founded fear of persecution now that he had left the force.
Taking only two weeks to arrive at its unanimous decision, the three-judge panel that heard the appeal granted the client’s petition for review, vacated the order of removal and remanded the case to the BIA. The opinion, authored by Judge Easterbrook, noted that the BIA had ignored significant record evidence in support of R.R.D.’s claim and concluded by questioning why the government would have any interest in continuing to press removal on remand. Rather, the Court commented, R.R.D. “appears to be someone who should be hired and put to work by the Department of Homeland Security itself, rather than sent packing.” The team also included Partner Paul M. Smith and Summer Associate Andrew Rohrbach.