When Gabriela left her home in El Salvador in 2011, she did not know anything about U.S. immigration law. She just knew that she needed to escape from domestic violence and find a new life elsewhere.
After spending weeks crossing Guatemala and Mexico, she arrived at the U.S. border, where she eventually learned she was eligible to apply for asylum. While she waited six years for her case to work its way through the system, she was able to live and work in the U.S. After she was granted asylum in 2017, she was able to apply for asylum for her two children as well.
Though their experience was long and difficult, Gabriela — whose name has been changed because she is worried about a pending green card application — says she is grateful that in the U.S. “if you work hard you’ll be able to take care of yourself and have a good life.”
Each year, thousands of migrants like Gabriela apply for asylum in the U.S., saying that they have been persecuted due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership in a social group. Now, President Donald Trump is seeking to dramatically remake that system.