CHILDREN'S ASYLUM: SALVADORAN GIRL WHO REFUSED TO BECOME A “GANG GIRLFRIEND” IS ELIGIBLE FOR ASYLUM (Keren)

Keren* is an 18-year-old girl from El Salvador. A gang leader took notice of her when she was 17 and began harassing and threatening her. On at least three occasions, this man and his fellow gang members threatened Keren that if she did not agree to be with him, they would kill her and her family members. Because Keren did not want to be with this man and feared that the gang would harm her and her family, she fled to the United States. She is eligible for asylum and needs an attorney to represent her in her asylum application and 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.     

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Keren* is an 18-year-old girl from El Salvador. She grew up with her parents and five older siblings. She attended school through the 9th grade. After school, she would help her parents sell fruit at their fruit stand. In January of 2022, when Keren was 17 years old, a gang member who was a stranger to her noticed her and began targeting and threatening her. The gang member said that because she's pretty, she needed to be with him. He said that if she didn't agree, he would kill her and her family. He told her that he was in charge of the gang. Keren refused his demands because she is young, she did not want to be with someone like that, and she did not want to be involved with bad things.

The gang leader refused to take no for an answer. Later that month, his fellow gang members came to talk to her at the fruit stand after her parents had left. They said that she needed to be with him and asked if she wanted to go with him. They said that if she didn’t, her family was at risk. Keren declined again.

In the beginning of March, the gang members approached Keren at the fruit stand once more. They said that she could either be with the good or with the bad. Keren said that she did not want to be with a delinquent and did not want to be with him.

Keren told her family about the threats, and they began accompanying her everywhere. As is common, the family did not report the threats to be police because they feared that their lives would be in greater danger if they did so. However, the gang’s threats scared Keren so much that she fled to the United States soon after the third threat.

Because the gang persecuted Keren, she is eligible for asylum. Because she entered the U.S. as an unaccompanied child, her 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 Keren will petition the USCIS for asylum and will assist her in her asylum interview; if Keren does not win asylum through the USCIS process, her attorney will then represent her at trial in immigration court.   

  • Timeline: Keren has no hearings scheduled. File asylum application expeditiously.

  • Location: Annandale, VA (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 jennifer@caircoalition.org.

 *Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy