Help a Young Salvadoran Mother Who Watched a Death Squad Murder Her Husband for Evangelizing to Gang Members (NON-DETAINED)
Margot* is a 20-year-old Salvadoran mother of a toddler daughter. Margot fled her country after a death-squad type group assassinated her husband in front of her and their daughter. This group killed her husband because he and his father were Evangelical Christians who preached and ministered to the gangs, in some cases convincing members to change their way of life. Margot and her daughter Pablita* are eligible for the fear-based defenses to deportation of Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and protection under the Convention against Torture and need an attorney to represent them in immigration court.
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.
Margot* is a 20-year-old woman from El Salvador, and her toddler daughter Pablita* is two years old. Margot’s husband Jesus* and several members of his family were very active in an Evangelical Christian church that preaches and ministers to the gangs, in some cases convincing members to change their way of life. Jesus’ father was an official pastor, and Jesus preached frequently in an unofficial capacity and was often called "el pastor" by community people.
There is a history of tension in El Salvador between evangelicals like Jesus and his father and “Los Exterminios,” a death squad-type group that operates throughout the country with the goal of eradicating all gangs, engaging in extrajudicial killings and viligantism. They distrust anyone who speaks with gangs and therefore were very hostile to Jesus’ family, whom they had threatened with death. In 2015, Exterminio members killed Jesus’ nephew for reasons related to the family's Evangelical work. Some family members went into hiding afterwards, but Jesus and his father continued their religious activities.
In April 2019, members of the Exterminios shot Jesus to death in the street in front of Margot and Pablita. Margot and Pablita fled to the U.S. shortly thereafter because Margot feared that they would kill her too. Indeed, neighbors and Margot’s mother reported that the Exterminios came looking for her shortly after she fled.
Margot and Pablita are not detained. They are living in Maryland with relatives, including a child whom CAIR Coalition represents through its Detained Unaccompanied Children’s Program. We are helping Margot and Pablita find a pro bono team to represent them in their own removal proceedings, and we will mentor the team throughout those proceedings.
Based on the death of her father, Pablita may also be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, a special form of relief available to children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by at least one parent. A pro bono attorney will want to explore this possibility as an alternative form of relief for Pablita.
Timeline: Margot and Pablita do not have any court hearings scheduled yet. Because they are not detained, their removal proceedings have a longer timeline than a detained case.
Location: Prince George’s County, Maryland (not detained)
For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-866-9287.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy