Remember: As an unaccompanied child, you may be able to apply for special protection, like asylum. It is important for you to talk to an immigration attorney, like Gilberto did and discuss your case. An attorney can help explain the asylum process and see if you qualify for asylum or another form of relief.
In May 2014, Gilberto was just 13 years old when he fled Guatemala and headed to the US. He feared MS-13 gang members would eventually kill him because he refused to sell drugs for them. He was hoping to be reunited with his father who lived in California. He arrived at the US border after a very difficult journey. He saw many terrible things and was kidnapped twice before finally being taken to an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelter. In July 2014, Gilberto was finally released to live with his father in Southern California.
Because of the threats, harm, and persecution Gilberto suffered, he was able to ask for protection, known as asylum. His attorney, Linda Dakin-Grimm was able to help him file for asylum and has seen him grow from a shy young boy into a young man determined to help others.
Linda Dakin-Grimm helps unaccompanied children like Gilberto because “our laws are in place to protect every child and to protect their dignity, and to do what the world has long recognized is right for suffering human beings.”
Gilberto was granted asylum by an immigration judge and now has legal status to remain in the US. He was able to learn English and finished high school in 2019. Now he hopes to become a firefighter and help others. In April 2021, he became eligible to file to become a US citizen.