Gang Member Violence, Kidnappings, Forced Initiation

Gang Member Violence, Kidnappings, Forced Initiation

Have you or others in your home country been recruited by a gang?
Did you refuse to join the gang because you didn’t agree with their gang activities?
Were you kidnapped or attacked by a gang?
Did you flee your country because the police were not able or willing to protect you?


You may be eligible for asylum protection in the U.S. based on a particular social group or political opinion if you were targeted by a gang for harm. Even if you are related to someone who resisted gang recruitment or were associated with someone like this, you may be eligible for protection under U.S. asylum laws.

Central American countries in particular are facing extreme violence in the form of street gangs. Gangs have contributed to the high murder rates in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Many individuals are fleeing the region to escape death threats, harassment, beatings, and sexual assault by gang members. But convincing U.S. courts to recognize your asylum claim could be very difficult. Depending on where you are located in the U.S., different circuits and Immigration Judges treat gang-based asylum claims differently. Characterizing the persecution as happening because of being a member of a social group of gang informants or resisters of recruitment or resisting gang recruitment due to one’s political opinion has had mixed results in the courts.

Gang-based asylum is a very complicated area of immigration and cases can be very difficult to win. Case law is often changing. The realistic evidentiary burden on an applicant as to why s/he is being targeted are constantly challenged both with USCIS and in court. Some judges and immigration officers have difficulty understanding that a gang can target an individual for more than one reason and that membership in a particular social group or another protected ground does not have to be the only reason for the gang targeting the individual. For example, a gang could be targeting an individual for harm because of their membership in the particular social group or because of their perceived political beliefs against the gang activity and other motivations such as wanting money or to demonstrate power to others by harming the individual.

Claims of persecution for resistance to general gang recruitment efforts fail most of the time in asylum claims. That’s why it is critical to work with attorneys who can help you tell your story and mold your social group or political opinion claim so the Immigration judge or officer understands the particular reasons why you were persecuted or targeted because you resisted gang recruitment efforts, that it wasn’t just because the gang wanted to increase its numbers but they were targeting you in particular, for a reason, and you were singled out.  Was your opposition to the gang related to strongly held religious beliefs? Did you tell others about your opposition to gang activities and the reasons why?  Cases can hinge on the facts presented and being able to get your story across. An experienced asylum attorney can be key to winning your case.

The attorneys at SGG successfully represented individuals from countries all over the world in winning Asylum, Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture cases. We have the unique experience level of multiple removal defense attorneys who regularly challenge denials at the Board of Immigration Appeals level and in Immigration court when cases are referred by USCIS who refuses to issue an approval. We handle cases along the entire spectrum and benefit from having a former USCIS Asylum officer as one of our Senior Attorneys working one on one with clients to prepare them what to face at intimidating and long agency interviews on asylum claims. We represent individuals in detention, out on bond, and just recently arrived from other countries needing our help.  Our clients benefit from work authorization while cases are pending and after approval, permanent residency.

Asylum also has important deadlines so it’s in your best interest to contact us as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss the filing deadline.

For more information about your gang-related asylum case and how we may be able to help you, click here or call us at 213.627.8997 today to book a detailed Case Evaluation appointment with an experienced family and removal immigration attorney.