Our Immigration Law Program’s new Immigration Law Attorney Mina Litvak with the assistance of law student Legal Intern Alexandra Medina have been working with unaccompanied children and families who recently arrived from Central America and are currently in deportation proceedings. The courage of the children and families has been tremendous. One mother fled with her young son whose life had been threatened by gang violence leaving behind her husband and other children. Under current case law, the gang violence cases are not always considered asylum cases. However, our Immigration Law Program is working to show asylum including showing the entire family is targeted. Many women fleeing domestic violence have come with their children. Our Immigration Law Program is representing these women in asylum cases showing the great abuse endured.
A 15 year old boy made the journey alone and describes how coyotes threatened him with death if he didn’t pay extra money beyond the agreed amount his parents had paid. After crossing a river the coyotes left his group and he was forced to run in the desert leading a group of women and children. Still worse were the cramped conditions he described in the immigration holding facilities. “We were like 50 people in a room of about two meters wide and four meters long. It was really hard not being able to sleep.” The greatest challenge has been those children and families whose lives are in danger because they have been threatened to be killed or harmed due to gang violence. Some of the children who made the journey alone remain alone in the U.S. and some are now with relatives. Others have been able to reunite with their parents in the U.S. Children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. However, these children are not able to use their future legal permanent resident status to benefit the non-offending parent who raised them. Future legislative action would be necessary to fill these kinds of gaps in immigration legislation.