New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Can Those Facing Gang Violence in Native Countries Obtain U.S. Asylum?

Author: US asylum Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Gang violence as a source of persecution is a legal area that may soon come under further judicial scrutiny.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article about a case involving an undocumented minor named Josue Rafael Orellana Garcia, who fled from Honduras when he was 17 and illegally entered the United States to be with his mother in New Jersey. She had acquired legal U.S. status. During his time in Honduras, the boy suffered a handicap where he lost one eye as a result of a hurricane and subsequently was persecuted by a local gang that threatened to kill him if he did not join. When in the United States he applied for asylum. The WSJ reported that U.S. Immigration Judge Federic Leeds heard the case and stated that no judicial precedent existed for incorporating the "concept of joining gangs" as a threat covered by U.S. asylum. He also said the young man had not provided adequate documentation that gangs targeted him and his family. In 2010, the United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) deported Orellana to Honduras. In 2011, his dead body was found strewn with bullets.

A United Nations report indicated that Honduras had a 2010 murder rate of 82.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, which was the highest homicide rate in the world. While the drug cartels and homicides in Mexico have been highly reported in the U.S. media, the situation in Honduras has not been as high profile. The Peace Corps extracted Honduras volunteers at the end of 2011 because of dangers involved with working in the country.

In an effort to push the legal envelope and establish a precedent that includes immigrants victimized by gang violence, Orellana’s family has hired a lawyer and is seeking posthumous asylum. They hope to send a message that helps all Central American youth facing similar persecution.

If you are seeking asylum or other legal solutions to immigration problems, find out how a New York asylum lawyer can help.

17 January 2013
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