April 22, 2020

Munger, Tolles & Olson and Loyola Law School Win Ninth Circuit Immigration Appeal

Partner and trial attorney Martin Estrada and a team of law students at Loyola Law School successfully convinced a Ninth Circuit panel to grant a petition for review for a single mother and her three children who had fled Guatemala after being persecuted due to their indigenous heritage.

Florentina Carreto-Escobar and her three children fled Guatemala after suffering years of violence, threats and harassment on account of their indigenous Mam ethnicity. Upon arriving in the United States, they were met with a string of new challenges, including being denied immigration relief by an Immigration Judge and losing again before the Board of Immigration Appeals.

When their case went to the Ninth Circuit, which is where Mr. Estrada and his Loyola team stepped in as pro bono counsel. After doing a deep-dive into the record and applicable law, the team submitted extensive briefing showing that Carreto-Escobar and her children were entitled to relief.

Although the case did not receive oral argument following the emergency orders put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on April 22, 2020, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision finding that the evidence “compels the conclusion that the harm Carreto-Escobar and her children suffered rises to the level of persecution,”—a total pivot from the BIA’s ruling—and that the BIA applied the wrong legal standard in denying relief for withholding of removal.

With this victory in front of the Ninth Circuit, the petitioners are now positioned to litigate before the BIA in a favorable posture.

Martin Estrada led the team, which included Jennifer Roges and Nima Zargari of Loyola Law School. The team received significant help from Munger, Tolles & Olson lawyers and staff.