Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



International Migration Studies


Don Hernandez

Subject Categories

Immigration Law | International Humanitarian Law


asylum, gang violence, united nations, northern triangle


This thesis will create an argument for how the victims of gang violence from the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras qualify for asylum in the United States based on a well-founded fear of persecution. An analysis of the legal framework of the asylum system in the United States, profiles of the two largest gangs in the Northern Triangle the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, a profile of the asylum seekers arriving at the United States border, the criminal activity that the gangs engage in, and the way that this activity is political in nature will form the argument that gang violence is inherently political in the Northern Triangle. UNHCR reports and local Northern Triangle police data will illustrate the circumstances of de facto gang rule in the region and DHS statistics will show how the growing numbers of Central American asylees necessitate a U.S. policy change regarding victims of gang violence.