Children seek asylum to escape violence at the hands of organized gangs, intra-familial violence, sexual abuse and incest, female genital cutting, forced marriage, slavery, forced recruitment as child soldiers, and other violations of their human rights.  In order to be granted asylum, children must satisfy the same refugee definition as adults - showing that they have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  Although the definition of a refugee is the same for children and adults, domestic and international guidelines advise that it should be applied in a child-sensitive manner, which takes into account the differences between children and adults, such as developmental differences, greater communication challenges for children, and forms and manifestations of persecution unique to children. CGRS gets involved in cases that seek to further this child sensitive approach.

  • Maldonado v. Holder (pending): A lesbian woman from El Salvador was forced, at the age of 14, to marry a 68-year-old man to "cure" her of her homosexuality and bore two children as the result of rapes within the marriage. The immigration agency did not recognize these harms as persecution on account of a protected ground.  CGRS filed an amici brief on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, joined by several women's and LGBT rights organizations, arguing that forced marriage and its attendant harms, like rape, suffered by Ms. Maldonado constitute persecution particularly given her age at the time. The case remains pending.
  • Castro v. Holder (pending): This case involves a gay man from Honduras who sought and was denied asylum on the basis of sexual assault and other violence and discrimination he suffered as a child because of his sexual orientation and gender identity.  CGRS filed an amici brief joined by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission with the Eleventh Circuit, arguing that the abuse he suffered as a child should have been considered.  The government agreed to a remand and the case is still pending at the agency.