Miguel is a 19-year old boy born in El Salvador. Abandoned by his father when he was small, Miguel’s mother and stepfather supported him until he was 15. However, they were too poor to support him as he got older. Miguel’s stepfather viewed him as a burden on the family and refused to support him financially or emotionally. They fought constantly and Miguel’s stepfather often beat him. Miguel’s mother sold fruit at the local market, but never made enough money to provide for Miguel on her own.
In El Salvador, gangs control vast areas and recruit kids like Miguel, who are vulnerable and do not have familial support. Unwilling to join MS-13, a notoriously brutal gang with extensive reach in El Salvador, who recruited Miguel through intimidation and physical abuse, Miguel decided to leave El Salvador. He made the precarious journey to the United States by foot, bus, raft and car and was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.
After being released from a detention facility in Texas into the care of his aunt in New York, Miguel was placed into removal proceedings. Safe Passage first met Miguel in immigration court and he was clearly exasperated by the 60-day journey and the time spent in detention at the border. Safe Passage agreed to represent Miguel and found that he qualified for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) based on his father’s abandonment and his mother’s neglect.
Thanks to the hard work of Safe Passage, Miguel is now a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States, living safely and happily with his devoted and loving aunt, who is now also his legal guardian. Miguel graduated from high school this May and aspires to be a teacher when he is older.