Escaping Latin America’s gang violence is a challenge without a ‘social group’
By Kara Mason
LAW WEEK COLORADO
When Colorado criminal defense and immigration attorney Guillermo Garibay took his second asylum case, he knew convincing an immigration judge to let his client stay in the U.S. would be challenging.
The client was fleeing gang violence in Guerrero, a state in southwestern Mexico that, through October, saw more than 1,800 homicides. Most killings can be attributed to active gangs entangled with day-to-day life in many of the state’s towns and villages, including the resort town of Acapulco. The gangs use extortion as a way to make money and frequently kill people when demands aren’t met.
While the details of gang violence in the region are vile — dead bodies showcasing evidence of torture, sometimes decapitated — people fleeing the state, and most Latin American countries, face an uphill battle in seeking asylum in the U.S.
“Courts have been really strict on asylum cases,” Garibay, who runs his own practice, said. “Everyone (in Latin America) has a gang problem.”