Monday, May 19, 2008

Seeking asylum from gangs

On a fairly regular basis I receive e-mails from lawyers who are representing Salvadorans facing deportation from the US. The lawyers are often looking for information to support an asylum claim for person who fear gang-related persecution if they return to El Salvador. US law grants asylum to persons in the US who establish they have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

A resource to which I will now direct those lawyers is the Gang Asylum Guide put out by the Washington Office on Latin America. The Guide presents an overview of the gang problem in El Salvador and other Central American countries and provides resources for making the argument that a former gang-member, or a person who fled gang recruitment, or other persons should be entitled to asylum in the US.

I've written previously about the Medrano family who fled El Salvador after gangs threatened their lives for not paying extortion demands. Crossing into the US without documentation, they were detained by US immigration authorities and the father of the family was deported immediately. Shortly after his forced return to El Salvador, the gangs killed him. Now his family seeks asylum in the US.

As the Dallas Morning News explains, making such an asylum claim does not fit neatly into the categories of US asylum law. Yet the family has had some success in court, and so far is being allowed to remain in the US, at least temporarily.

It is a tragic paradox. The gang problems in Central America are rooted in US immigration policy as gang members were deported from the Los Angeles area during crackdowns in the mid-1990s. Yet US immigration authorities also deport the gang's victims to face persecution and retribution from the gangs which infect certain neighborhoods of El Salvador and its neighboring countries.


chishi said...

Dear Tim:

Your blog is one of the best on the subject of El Salvador and its politics, at least it is so according to me. It is a true source of interesting links to information. Beyond that, your compromise to El Salvador is obviously very large, and that is appreciated by me too.

I assume that once we get into the subject of religion, which is a difficult one because it is subjective and ethereal, many different cords may be stricken once opinions are given.

Considering all of the above, I should not be surprised you have deleted completely the entrance on your blog regarding religion and shopping malls. Nevertheless, I was.

I would have thought that my comments were respectful enough to warrant no censorship. But again, religion is a difficult subject because it is ethereal.

Although you are not asking, I'd like to say that my opinion on the contents of your blog still remains a favorable one.


Tim said...


Thanks for the compliments, and welcome to the community of people of wide-ranging viewpoints who comment on the blog.

I am not sure what you mean about the censorship on your comments on the "Shopping Malls and Salvation" post. Your comment is still there. For some reason there are two comments which you deleted, but I did not delete anything.

I don't censor or delete comments because of their point of view. The only comments I have deleted in the past are either spam or are comments which were blatantly offensive and made personal attacks on other commenters. Everyone from the far right to the far left is welcome to leave comments here.

chishi said...

Dear Tim:

Thanks for clearing it up. It is just that the entrance you put up yesterday on the mall and the chappel is no longer on your Blog.

The two entrances were deleted by me, for gramatical corrections.


HODAD26 said...

yes, if he lets me post then he is Tim is truly a righteous guy
is this a religious theme? lol
Buddha blesses

no gold mines
canadians go home,NOW!!!
I will be there in 2 weeks, and will need crab bait

eric said...


Thanks for inlcuding the link to
Gang Asylum Guide. I found it very interesting and informative.

I never would have come across it, had you not included it in your blog.
One thing that does not get enough press, is the cladestine operations by police and La Sombra Negra, which go un-adressed in the local newspapers. They still, to this day, seem to operate without fear of prosecution. It was mentioned in the guide that "The Black Shadow" operated in the mid 90's targeting ex-guerrillas, but I understand they have emerged in various departementos in the country today. Not to the extent they operated previously, but they're out there.

Salud for your efforts in publishing informative information
and maintaining a great Blog.


Anonymous said...

See Tutela Legal and PDDH reports for information on the vigilante death squads today.

I have actually had requests to help (former) gang members fight extradition out of fear of being killed by the death squads.

Anonymous said...

Are you fKing kidding me? Gang Asylum? PLEASE< I saw and know so many Salvys that came up during Mitch and shortly after stating "oh we were destroyed by the hurricane", My ass, They use it for an excuse, and you sure as well know some Salvys will be using GANGS as an excuse to ESCAPE ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.
and Sombra NEgra hasnt been round since 94, sweeping groups have always existed. Brazil, Guatemala are infamous for "cleaning" street kids. The most famous one in Guate actually being a Salvy.
Nahamán Carmona
Also, regarding Gangs, I have always believed the pandilleros that were burned alive in the San Pedro Jail--was done on purpose.