HELP YOUNG BOY ESCAPE GANG THREATS AND ARGUE FOR STRONGER ASYLUM PROTECTION AGAINST GANGS (Manuel)

Manuel* is a 15-year-old boy from Honduras. Throughout his teenage life, he has been approached multiple times by gang members looking to recruit him or force him to sell drugs on their behalf. Manuel has five cousins in the gang, who have warned him to avoid becoming involved in the gang. He even witnessed and narrowly escaped a gang dispute and shooting while playing at a soccer field near his house. In 2021, Manuel’s parents arranged for him to flee to the United States, as they feared the gang presence in his home country. Manuel is now seeking a pro bono attorney to help him file for fear-based asylum. This is an opportunity for impactful advocacy, as the facts of Manuel’s case are unfortunately common for teenage boys from Honduras and are often not considered a basis for asylum by the government. Manuel needs a strong advocate to make creative arguments and demonstrate that Manuel’s status as a teenage boy in Honduras puts him at particular risk and qualifies him for asylum. 

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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Manuel* is a 15-year-old boy from Honduras. He has five cousins in a prominent gang in Honduras. His cousins would advise him not to join the gang, saying he would regret it and they did not have a way out. He was first approached by gang members and offered drugs when he was only 11 years old. When he was 12, gang members approached him on his way to his aunt's house and threatened to kill him if he did not join. Manuel stopped going to school during the seventh grade because of the gang’s repeated attempts to recruit him on his way to and from school. Gang members would harass many children at the school, telling them to sell drugs or alcohol for the gang.  

Manuel was directly approached by the gang for the third time when he was 13, and was again offered drugs. Shortly before leaving Honduras, Manuel was playing at a soccer field when he witnessed a shooting between two gangs. Two of his cousins have been killed by gang members, one in 2021. After the death of his second cousin, Manuel’s parents, fearing for his safety, arranged for him to travel to the United States. 

Manuel is seeking a pro bono attorney to help him apply for asylum. Manuel believes that if he were to return to Honduras, gang members would continue attempting to recruit him and would kill him if he refuses. Gang members recognize Manuel and know his name and his family.  

As a child asylum seeker, Manuel’s asylum process will flow through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency in the first instance and then possibly be adjudicated in a half-day trial in immigration court. An attorney representing Manuel will petition USCIS for asylum and assist Manuel in his asylum interview; if he does not win asylum through the USCIS process, the attorney will then represent him at trial in immigration court.  

This is an opportunity for impactful advocacy, as the facts of Manuel’s case are unfortunately common for teenage boys from Honduras and are often not considered a basis for asylum by the government. Manuel needs a strong advocate to make creative arguments and demonstrate that Manuel’s status as a teenage boy in Honduras puts him at particular risk for gang harassment and violence and qualifies him for asylum. Manuel’s attorney will also want to evaluate whether there are other protected grounds such as political opinion or family ties that could support Manuel’s application. 

  • Timeline: Manuel does not have any hearings scheduled currently. In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically. 

  • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia (not detained) 

  • Language: Spanish 

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at jennifer@caircoalition.org or 202-866-9287. 

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.