Gang-Related Asylum Cases in the United States
This page serves as a resource for attorneys and advocates representing asylum applicants fleeing persecution from violent criminal gangs.
Refugees Fleeing Gang Violence
An increasing number of persons from Central America are applying for asylum in the United States based on the persecution they suffered after being targeted by gangs in their home countries. These asylum applicants come from countries whose governments are unwilling or unable to control the activities of the gangs operating within, and many times across, their borders. In countries with weak governments, gangs are able to rape, rob, extort, beat, torture, and murder ordinary citizens with impunity. Unfortunately, favorable court decisions for asylum applicants fleeing gangs are rare.
Proving Gang-Related Asylum Claims
- Like all asylum applicants, asylum applicants fleeing gangs must show:
- The harm they suffered, or the harm they fear, is bad enough to qualify as “persecution.”
- The harm they suffered, or the harm they fear, is linked to one of the five protected grounds for asylum. To win asylum, it is not enough to show that an asylum applicant was harmed by a gang. The applicant must show a “nexus” between the harm suffered and one of the five grounds for asylum.
- Showing a “nexus” means that the asylum applicant must show that the gang harmed the applicant because of the applicant’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
- Their home countries are unable or unwilling to protect them.