KKTP has always been a nationwide law firm, and in August 2020, opened its Southern California office based in San Diego, California!  If you or someone you know has an immigration issue in California (or anywhere else in the U.S. or abroad), please contact our firm at (305) 444-0060 to set up a consultation with our Miami or Southern California office.

And if you or someone you know has a case out west, we have good news! The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers clients who live in California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam, and the Northern Marina Islands, decided an important case for asylum seekers on September 14, 2020: J.R. v. Barr, No. 18-72812 (9th Cir. Sept. 11, 2020), particularly for those clients from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

J.R. involved an asylum seeker from El Salvador who feared the 18th Street Gang, or Mara 18, a rival of the MS-13 gang.  An Immigration Judge and then the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied the asylum claim because the Immigration Judge in San Diego determined that the Salvadoran Government was “able and willing” to protect J.R.  This is important because if a noncitizen claims asylum based on a fear of gangs, they cannot get asylum unless they prove that their government is “unable or unwilling” to control the gang.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the Immigration Judge and the BIA.  The Ninth Circuit held that:

Some official responsiveness to complaints of violence, although relevant, does not automatically equate to governmental ability and willingness.  [Rather], [w]illingness to control persecutors notwithstanding, authorities may nevertheless be powerless to stop them because of a lack of … resources or because of the character or pervasiveness of the persecution.

Put another way, even if a government – like the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – are trying to control gangs like Mara 18 and MS-13, if the governments cannot protect their citizens, noncitizens from those countries have a legitimate claim for asylum.

KKTP is able and willing to represent you in the Ninth Circuit, and is ready to explain how cases like J.R. v. Barr may assist you in your case!