Maria fled El Salvador with her daughter, Julia, and granddaughter, Jasmine, after Julia’s husband was killed by MS gang members. The MS held a gun to Julia’s head while her husband was murdered, and Julia narrowly escaped being killed herself. The gang members then targeted and threatened Maria and held her hostage in her own home for four days, because Maria knew the MS members who had committed the homicide. Furthermore, the MS knew Maria to be a woman of strong religious and moral convictions who opposes their crimes.

After arriving in the U.S., Maria’s daughter and granddaughter passed their initial interview and were allowed to remain in the United States and pursue their asylum case. However, Maria does not know how to read or write, and she had a difficult time articulating her asylum claim. Furthermore, the Judge would not allow Maria to have an attorney assist at her hearing.

Maria was deported back to El Salvador, but she did not return to her hometown where she and her family had been victims of MS violence. Instead, she attempted to relocate within El Salvador to a friend’s home in another town two hours away. Nevertheless, one week later, she received a letter from the MS threatening to kill her. Maria fled El Salvador and came to the U.S. a second time.

Despite Maria’s prior deportation, Attorney Moises Barraza was able to win her a bond and get her released from detention, change venue for her case to Chicago, and defend her case. At a trial that lasted two days, we presented witness and expert testimony and strong arguments proving why Maria, her daughter, and granddaughter had a legitimate asylum claim and deserved protection from the United States in order to avoid getting killed by the gangs in El Salvador.

The Judge granted the case, and now Maria, Julia, and Jasmine no longer have to fear being deported to El Salvador. They are able to remain peacefully in the United States free from the danger of the MS gangs. We are assisting them in applying for permanent residency, with a goal to eventually help them become U.S. citizens.

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