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Asylum: Maldonado-Castro; Mejia-Almendarez v. Ashcroft, 103 Fed. Appx. 113 (9th Cir. 2004)

Case Summary

Nelson Maldonado-Castro and his wife Seyda Mejia-Almendarez were both Honduran nationals that suffered persecution from their own government. Nelson Maldonado-Castro uncovered a credible reasoning of governmental corruption within the Honduran military. Maldonado-Castro petitioned for asylum but his application was denied by the Immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) who affirmed the judge’s decision.

However, when the case was petitioned for review, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit argued that the Immigration judge’s reasoning for denying asylum was not supported by sufficient evidence, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the petitioner had credible testimonies to his claim of persecution based on his political opinion as an investigator that uncovered corruption within the Honduran military.


  • Maldonado-Castro’s investigation into military corruption could have exposed sensitive criminal activity occurring within the Honduran military, leading to his persecution.

  • The immigration judge rules against the idea that Maldonado-Castro’s investigations did not constitute persecution on the grounds of political opinion.

  • The BIA reaffirms these findings without much reasoning, and the Ninth Circuit Court reverses the judge's ruling.

Legal Analysis

Standards for Asylum Qualification

  • Applicant must present a well founded fear of persecution based on one or multiple specific grounds.

  • Qualifying forms of Persecution based on: Race, Religion, Nationality, Membership to a Particular Social Group, and/or Political Opinion.

  • In addition, the applicant must demonstrate that he or she cannot return to their home country based on credible fear of future persecution.

Standards for Withholding of Deportation

  • Applicant must demonstrate credible future persecution in the proposed country of removal.

  • It is presumed that if an applicant can prove credible persecution based on one or more of the five grounds of qualified persecution, then it is assumed that they will face future persecution on the basis of the original claim.


This case demonstrates a further analysis of the situation by the Ninth Circuit Court who disagreed with the lower court's decision. Their argument stems from the fact that the testimonies presented by Maldonado-Castro were credible and cited that those who undergo previous persecution on the basis of exposing government corruption will likely face future persecution.

The Ninth Circuit Court argues that Maldonado-Castro’s investigation of corruption within the Honduran military could have set in motion sensitive criminal allegations towards a powerful government institution. The court then argues that those who face persecution based on their efforts to expose government corruption amounts to persecution based on political opinion.


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