Can you tell us about your experience with KIND and the case you worked on?
A KIND attorney came to my firm and gave a lunch presentation and overview of the organization. Hearing some of the stories really resonated with me, given the struggles a lot of these kids have to go through and the tough situations they’re in.
That very afternoon, I volunteered to take on a case involving a family from El Salvador – a mother and three daughters, the youngest of whom was 9 at the time. Their father wasn’t in the picture and had a history of abuse. The mother had moved to Houston to work and send money home about 10 years earlier. The girls were living with their grandparents in a small town in El Salvador.
Research, including a report KIND released in June, shows that gang-based sexual and gender-based violence is widespread in El Salvador and across Central America. My clients witnessed this first hand, and things got especially bad in late 2013.
The family started getting letters from one of the gangs asking for money and threatening the girls’ safety. The letters got darker and darker – they said they knew the father wasn’t around, where the girls went to school, etc. The family didn’t think going to the police would be effective. So, in summer 2014, they decided they should go to Houston to be with their mother. She made the arrangements, and they actually took a raft across the Rio Grande.
Did they make it to Houston?
Not at first. The girls were detained after they crossed the border and bounced around several detention centers before they were eventually released into their mother’s custody.