Legal Counsel Key for Immigrant Kids

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Unaccompanied minors and their sponsors attend a legal services event in Atlanta in October. More than half of minors show up to immigration court without a lawyer, which can increase their chances of deportation.

Elly Yu

Unaccompanied minors and their sponsors attend a legal services event in Atlanta in October. More than half of minors show up to immigration court without a lawyer, which can increase their chances of deportation.

To 16-year-old Samuel, the choice to leave his home in El Salvador became very clear.

“The gangs were killing my family members, and they wanted to kill me,” Samuel said in Spanish through a translator. “They wanted to cut my fingers — mine and my sisters. And that’s the reason I came.”

Samuel, who asked to be identified by his first name only, said a local gang had killed his uncle and two of his cousins in El Salvador. The gang told him he was next if he refused to join them.

So early this year, Samuel decided to leave. His parents were living in Georgia, outside of Atlanta. His dad, a construction worker, and his mom, a housekeeper, had been working in the United States for more than a decade.

“They didn’t want me to come,” he said. His parents told him the trek to the U.S. was too dangerous.

Read the full story with radio interview on GPB's website.

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