PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN ORDER OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION
L. Rado and The Law Office of Rachel L. Rado, LLC on brief
L. Jones, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil
Division, Office of Immigration Litigation, Joseph H. Hunt,
Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, and Jessica E.
Burns, Senior Litigation Counsel, Office of Immigration
Litigation, on brief for respondent.
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Selya, Circuit Judges.
TORRUELLA, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
("Ramírez") seeks review of a Board of
Immigration Appeals ("BIA") order affirming the
Immigration Judge's ("IJ") denial of his
applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and
protection under the Convention Against Torture
("CAT"). We deny Ramírez's petition for
following facts are derived from Ramírez's
immigration court testimony, which the IJ found credible.
was born in Guatemala on June 29, 1994. There, he worked at a
rice factory and through this job earned a higher wage than
many in his community. In 2014, Ramírez began an
eight-month relationship with a woman named Delmy
Rodríguez. Ramírez ended this relationship
after learning that Delmy was also romantically involved with
a member of the Barrio 18 gang. Ramírez left Guatemala
and entered the United States in May 2015, fearing for his
life after three encounters with presumed Barrio 18 gang
members in the preceding months. According to Ramírez,
the gang members decided to assail him after "[t]hey
realized [he] was making a lot of money where [he] was
first encounter with gang members occurred early in February
2015, when four armed and masked gang members approached him
and demanded his money. The second incident came just a week
later as Ramírez was returning home from work. This
time, two men confronted Ramírez and again demanded
his money. A physical altercation took place during this
second encounter, but according to Ramírez his
assailants did not "hurt [him] roughly." The third
and final incident occurred around April or May 2015. Gang
members again approached Ramírez and told him that
they would make him disappear if he did not disappear on his
own. The assailants also told Ramírez not to get
involved with their women -- a remark Ramírez
interpreted as a reference to his relationship with Delmy.
Ramírez did not report any of these incidents to the
entered the United States without inspection on May 17, 2015
and applied for asylum the following month. He appeared
before an IJ on October 11, 2017. Ramírez testified
that he feared returning to Guatemala because gang members
would pursue him to do harm since he "had previously
dated a girl, Delmy . . ., who at the same time started
dating a member of the [Barrio 18] gang." Despite
finding his testimony to be credible, the IJ denied
Ramírez's application for asylum, withholding of
removal, and protection under the CAT. The IJ found that
Ramírez's three encounters with gang members did
not amount to persecution and that he did not belong to a
cognizable "particular social group" for purposes
of refugee status. Ramírez then appealed to the BIA,
which dismissed his appeal on October 9, 2018.
as here, the BIA adopts and affirms . . . the IJ's ruling
and further justifies the IJ's conclusions, we review
both the BIA's and IJ'S opinions." Nako v.
Holder, 611 F.3d 45, 48 (1st Cir. 2010). We review any
legal conclusions de novo, "with appropriate
deference to the agency's interpretation of the
underlying statute in accordance with administrative law
principles." Rivas-Durán v. Barr, 927
F.3d 26, 30 (1st Cir. 2019) (quoting Vásquez v.
Holder, 635 F.3d 563, 565 (1st Cir. 2011)). "By
contrast, we review factual findings under the deferential
'substantial evidence standard,' meaning that we will
not disturb such findings if they are 'supported by