At age 16, “Manuel” fled his home in La Union, El Salvador, in the middle of the night to seek refuge from gang violence and recruitment by Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the biggest and deadliest gang that reigns across Central America. Time was ticking for Manuel to make the decision to join MS-13 or die if he refused. Hoping to provide an alternative, his parents arranged for Manuel to travel to the United States. En route, Manuel was apprehended by Texas Custom and Border Patrol agents. As a minor unaccompanied by parents or guardians, and without any parent or legal guardian in the United States to provide care and physical custody, Manuel was deemed an “unaccompanied alien child” by Immigration and Custom Enforcement and immediately placed into removal proceedings.
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