It was error to deny asylum to a former Columbian truck driver who was persecuted by FARC for not cooperating with it.
“We can assume that he would not be persecuted for being a former trucker alone. We can also assume that he would not be persecuted for privately held anti- FARC views. Escobar, however, cannot split himself into two people: he is a former trucker who is anti-FARC, and for this he has faced and will face persecution. Escobar’s status as a former trucker explains how he first came in contact with FARC and why he found himself in FARC’s cross-hairs. FARC aims to control the transportation network of Colombia. For that reason, according to Escobar’s evidence, it targets truckers who are not already sympathetic to it. This, perhaps coupled with Escobar’s Liberal Party membership, is what Escobar contends brought him to FARC’s attention. (Escobar believes that FARC representatives spotted him taking people to and from a Liberal Party rally and attending that rally himself, although it is also possible that other facts that the Board did not address, such as his contracts with the sugar refinery or his complaints to the refinery security force and the police, may have played a part too.) Looking at the evidence as a whole, the Board might reasonably find that FARC’s burning of the trucks sent a powerful message that FARC has every intention of continuing to persecute him, that Escobar has refused to cooperate with FARC and has collaborated with law enforcement against it, and that FARC is known to murder informers and leave their bodies strewn on the roads as a warning to those who might consider crossing its path. Moreover, the evidence indicates that FARC is equipped with the sophisticated espionage techniques required to track its enemies expeditiously. The Board concluded, based on the incomplete account of the facts it offered, that the only reason FARC targeted Escobar was for his trucking capabilities. But that makes no sense. Perhaps FARC was happy to take advantage of Escobar’s trucking capabilities for a while. But if that is what it wanted more broadly, then it is hard to see why it would have torched the very trucks it wanted when Escobar managed to evade it.”
10-3751 Escobar v. Holder
Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals, Wood, J.