Indigenous Man from Guatemala Beaten and Threatened by Drug Traffickers

Walter* is a 44-year old indigenous Guatemalan man currently held by the government in a detention facility in Maryland. Walter fled his home country after several members of a narco-trafficking group beat and threatened to kill him. He testified against them, and this spurred more death threats. Walter needs help to overturn a negative reasonable fear interview finding and then apply for withholding of removal (akin to 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.


Walter was born in Guatemala and worked as a farmer. In 2005, he was beaten by several individuals who belong to a narco-trafficking cartel. He now has a prosthetic eye. It is unclear why he was attacked, but Walter has stated that the group had previously tried to recruit him.

Walter’s neighbors reported the incident to the police and one man was arrested. Walter testified against the man, but the man escaped from jail prior to the final disposition. Following this, the group continued to threaten Walter’s family and his life. When he asked the police about the trafficker's release, police told him "it is none of your business he is already out.”

Walter returned to Guatemala briefly after fleeing in 2005, but in 2012 came back to the United States after more threats.  Walter has a wife and four children. He has one conviction for "fraud, in obtaining or attempting to obtain driver's license."

Walter needs help overturning his negative Reasonable Fear Interview findings. During the interview, in which the government made an initial determination of no-eligibility for fear-based relief, Walter was confused and did not understand the questions asked of him. Once overturned in a hearing before an immigration judge, Walter will have a regular court hearing in two months on the merits of his claim.

Walter speaks Mam and will need an interpreter. He is detained in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Director Michael Lukens at 202-870-5962 or

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.


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