El Salvadorian refugee Elvis finds stability in Tijuana

Elvis lived in El Salvador for most of his adult life, until he was 48 years old. He faced repeated extortion and threats from MS-13. It wasn’t until gang members tried to take his life in a brutal knife attack that Elvis decided he would flee to Mexico for safety. He spent over a week in the hospital after receiving an operation for his wounds. Fearing for his life, he left the country before his wounds had time to heal, resulting in a lifelong medical condition. 

Elvis arrived in 2014 and lived in Mexico for almost 6 years before contacting Asylum Access in Tijuana for help in 2019. He had not applied for refugee status earlier because he did not know how to read or write and had little understanding of the benefits of asylum or the application process.

Mexico has a rule barring applications submitted more than 30 days after entering the country. This bar has led to the deportation of many refugees who did not have the benefit of legal assistance to apply for a waiver. 

Despite a 5 year delay, with the help of Asylum Access, Elvis succeeded in initiating an asylum process before COMAR. While many asylum-seekers never receive the temporary legal status documents they are entitled to, Asylum Access lawyers helped Elvis initiate that process as well and accompanied him to follow-up on it.

Within two months of his asylum application, he was issued a humanitarian visa allowing him to live and work legally in Mexico throughout the process. Elvis now has a steady job with health care benefits, which allows him to treat the medical condition he developed from the assault that caused him to immigrate to Mexico initially.