Ervin* is an 11-year-old boy from El Salvador. Gang members in one city threatened and extorted Ervin's family because his mother had a successful small business. They said they would kill her children if she did not pay them "rent," so his mother abandoned the business and fled to another city with her children. However, soon members of another gang in their new city began threatening the family with death because they had come from a city controlled by the rival gang. Ervin's mother reported the threats to the police, and one gang member was imprisoned, but other gang members continue to threaten revenge. Ervin is now living with his father in Maryland and is eligible for asylum. He needs an attorney to represent him in an asylum interview, and in immigration court, if necessary. 


All CAIR Coalition matters placed with a pro bono team are robustly mentored by a CAIR Coalition attorney. Our mentoring program includes an opening meeting to discuss the scope and process of the matter, provision of samples, guidance on the law, review of draft filings, assistance with client contact, and guidance on preparation for interviews and hearings.     




Ervin is an 11-year-old boy from El Salvador. Ervin lived with his mother and younger half-brother in a city where his mother had a food business. Gang members noticed this business and began extorting Ervin's mother and threatening to kill her and her children if she did not pay them the "rent." Because the family could not afford to pay, Ervin's mother abandoned her business and fled to another city with her children.


In the new city, though, members of another gang began threatening the family with death because they had come from a city controlled by the rival gang. One particular gang member threatened Ervin's mother that he would kill her children (Ervin and his younger half-brother) if the family did not leave. Ervin's mother reported him to the police, and he was imprisoned, but his fellow gang members continued to threaten the family and said they would take revenge upon them.


To escape the gang threats, Ervin and his mother and half-brother fled for the U.S. Ervin's mother was turned away at the border and took Ervin's younger half-brother back to El Salvador with her, but Ervin was able to enter the U.S. as an unaccompanied child. Ervin's mother remains in El Salvador and continues to live in fear of gang retaliation. She no longer works regularly because she is afraid that doing so will lead the gang to catch and harm her.


Ervin is now living with his biological father in Maryland. Even though they had never met in person before, Ervin's father had always supported him, and they had maintained a long distance relationship. Ervin also lives with his stepmother and her child, Ervin's stepbrother, who traveled to the U.S. with Ervin. These stepbrothers have different parents and different cases, and a pro bono attorney would not be asked to take on representation of Ervin's stepbrother. 


Based on the gang's persecution of Ervin and his family, he is eligible for asylum. As a child asylum seeker, Ervin's asylum process will flow through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency in the first instance and then may be adjudicated in a half-day trial in immigration court. An attorney representing Ervin will petition the USCIS for asylum and will assist him in his asylum interview; if Ervin does not win asylum through the USCIS process, his attorney will then represent them at trial in immigration court.   


  • Timeline: Ervin has no hearings scheduled. File asylum application expeditiously.
  • Location: Prince George's County, MD (not detained)
  • Language: Spanish - will require a fluent Spanish-speaking pro bono team member or a translator  


For more information about this case, please contact Jennifer Grishkin, Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Coordination, at


 *Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy