Central America

Court Rules Former Gang Members are Not Automatically Eligible for Asylum

By Peek & Toland on January 30, 2017

Migrants who have been persecuted for factors like race, religion and nationality can seek asylum in the United States. However, a recent court cause suggests membership of a gang is not an automatic qualifier for asylum.

Three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld existing federal immigration rules. These exclude former gang members from the social groups that can automatically claim asylum protection.

Former gang members have argued their membership of these dangerous groups will put them in grave danger if they return to their home countries.

The ruling is pertinent to thousands of immigrants have headed north to flee gang-related violence in Central America. Academics say many of these people were forced to join gangs in their home countries.

Court ruled on gang members and asylum

Being a gang member is not an automatic reason for aslyum

Fatma Marouf, a professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, said many of the asylum seekers from Central America were in gangs, often unwillingly.

The news channel KTTC reported on the ruling that stemmed from the deportation proceeding against a man from El Salvador. Wilfredo Garay Reyes escaped a gang in Central America and illegally entered the United States more than 15 years ago in 2001.

He was 18 at the time. He was shot in the leg by a gang leader who was unhappy at his defection. Garay sought asylum in the United States.

The categories of immigrants who are granted asylum are defined by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They are people who might be threatened because of their religion, race, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Gang Membership May Not Help With Asylum

Garay claimed a gang constitutes a “particular social group.” He warned the Mara 18 gang in El Salvador might use a preferred method of death on him. Typically, a gasoline-filled tire is placed around a victim’s neck and set on fire.

The court ruled that Garay did not automatically qualify to stay in the United States. However, the 9th Circuit ruled a separate law related to torture could prevent his deportation. The panel ruled an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals had been incorrect in discounting Garay’s concerns about being tortured upon his return to El Salvador.

Garay’s attorney was hopeful he could remain in the United States under the Convention Against Torture.

If you face torture or even death on return to your home country, your asylum application will be very important. You can read more from our Austin asylum attorneys here.

Although an attorney is not required for asylum this is a vital application and you will only get one chance. At Peek & Toland , we will make sure that you meet all the deadlines for filing as well as the criteria for to maximize your chances of success. Contact our office today to get started on your application.

Posted in Immigration

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Undocumented Youth from Central America Face Deportation

By Peek & Toland on August 11, 2016

Some of the saddest stories of deportation we see as Texas immigration attorneys concern those young people who arrive from Central America in the hope of a better life in the US only to be subsequently deported.

The wave of young people from Central America is a relatively new phenomenon. In 2014, violence and an upsurge of gang activity in countries like El Salvador and Honduras led to a migration of thousands of young people.

Young people from Central America face deportation

In a report, Center for American Progress noted how by July 2014, more than 57,000 children had arrived in the United States. It was a figure that was twice as high as the number of kids who reached the border in 2013. Many of them were alone.

The report noted that most of the unaccompanied children and families had started their long and dangerous journeys in part of Central America dubbed the “Northern Triangle,” where a combination of soaring levels of violence, gang activity, and poor economic conditions prevail.

Recently, the Citizen-Times described the plight of Elmer Reynoso-Reynoso, a former student from Asheville in North Carolina who was held in the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia

The report said he arrived in the United States two years ago as an unaccompanied minor. As many as 2,000 young people from Central America arrived in North Carolina alone around the same time.

Although the authorities said there is no reason to think Reynoso-Reynoso is a threat to public safety, and he recently became a father, he was picked up for missing a court hearing and hit with an order for removal.

Like many other migrants, he is in limbo. The backlog that’s faced by the immigration courts means it can take years to process the young people. Minors who have relatives in the United States are reunited with family while they wait for a hearing. Others are placed in detention centers and other temporary accommodations.

In 2015, along as many as 33,700 unaccompanied young people from Central America were placed in the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Thousands of young people pay large sums of money and face many dangers to come to the U.S. However, they believe the risks are worth taking. The Citizen-Times interviewed Fatima Aguilar, Reynoso-Reynoso’s girlfriend, who is the mother of his child.

She made the hazardous journey from El Salvador as an unaccompanied minor at the age of 14 in 2014, facing severe heat under a car seat.

She said there are many more opportunities for Central American migrants in the United States.

Our Texas immigration attorneys have recorded a number of successes in cancellation of removal cases for immigrants from Latin America. In many cases, these migrants have few resources and can’t speak English.

Our bilingual attorneys can help you through every stage of fighting deportation. We realize it seems daunting at first, but we take over the burden of fighting your case. Call us today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

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