things that matter

Stepping Onto U.S. Soil Is the Beginning of Legal Battles for Central American Kids

manuel portillo
CREDIT: MEREDITH HOFFMAN / VICE

For the Salvadoran kids who escape gang violence and actually make it to the United States, stepping onto U.S. soil marks the end of their grueling journey, but the beginning of their legal struggles.

Such is the case of Manuel Portillo, who, at 16 years old, left El Salvador to live with his parents in Austin, Texas, where they had moved to send money home. A year later — like many other kids from El Salvador seeking asylum — Portillo had to go to court and argue his case to seek refugee status, but he couldn’t find a pro bono lawyer that would help him. He missed his court date in fear of being deported and continued going to school and working at a local restaurant.

But he was arrested one night when he was driving without a license. “When I saw a judge later, he said I just had to pay a fine because of the license — but then he said I’d have to go into the hands of immigration officers,” Portillo told Vice. He was sent to a detention center for eight days.

Forty-nine percent of kids fleeing Central America between 2014 and 2015 had no legal representation to help them navigate the system and get asylum. Those who have access to a lawyer are five times more likely to stay as refugees.

Things could improve for these kids with the Day in Court for Kids Act proposed by House Democrats, which would provide legal representation for migrant youths. “We are talking about children running for their lives in many instances,” said Rep. Luis Guitierrez, one of the co-sponsors of the bill. “We need to make sure they have access to a lawyer, translator and a fair chance to navigate the American legal system so that they can get justice if they qualify for asylum and are fighting deportation.”

Portillo was lucky enough to have attorney Jacqueline Gurany step in and reopen his case. He was released from the detention center on bond thanks to her. “Manuel actually has a very strong asylum claim. He lived with [his] grandmother in an area dominated by gangs, [which] start to recruit boys at age 9 or 10 in the neighborhood,” Gurany said. And his uncle was nearly killed by gang members.

“I’m surprised Jacqueline helped me — and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to be here,” he said, “and I’ll keep fighting to stay.”

Read more about the future improvements on legal representation for migrant youth seeking asylum here

READ: Could the U.S. be Blamed for Gang Violence in El Salvador?

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24 Years After Selena’s Death: This Is What Los Dinos Have Been Up To

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24 Years After Selena’s Death: This Is What Los Dinos Have Been Up To

Credit: ill-ary / Tumblr

We all know that Selena wasn’t a solo act. She was backed up by a badass band we know as Los Dinos. Although the band continued playing after her death, they never really recovered from the tragic loss (same) and disbanded in 2002. Since then, the members have gone their own way. Here’s what they’ve been up to lately…

Los Dinos

CREDIT: @SUZETTESYLD / INSTAGRAM

This is what Selena y Los Dinos looked like… and we remember them like it was just yesterday ?.

Mr. and Mrs. Quintanilla

CREDIT: @SUZETTESYLD / INSTAGRAM

After Selena’s death, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., who started and then managed Selena y Los Dinos, has been dedicated to protecting his daughter’s legacy. He’s been involved in anything that has Selena’s name, including documentaries, albums, movies, fashion lines – even the Selena museum. He and his wife, Marcella, also founded The Selena Foundation, which helps kids in crisis.

A.B. Quintanilla – Bass

CREDIT: @selenareinadeltexmex/ INSTAGRAM

Don’t act like you don’t remember the song “Chiquilla” and yelling out “Te quiero!” Well, two years after his sister’s death, A.B. Quintanilla resurfaced with his own group, Kumbia Kings, a blend of cumbia, pop and R&B. After drama with his bandmate, Cruz Martinez, A.B. left the group and launched Kumbia All Starz in 2006.

Suzette Quintanilla – Drums

CREDIT: @SUZETTESYLD / INSTAGRAM

Suzette Quintanilla halted her music career after her sister’s death in 1995. Now she’s the manager of Selena’s museum in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the family’s music production company, Q-Productions. They sign groups that play Tejano music, similar to Los Dinos.

Chris Perez – Guitars

CREDIT: @CHRISPEREZ1 / INSTAGRAM

Chris Perez, Selena’s widower, formed his own music group, The Chris Perez Band, in 1998. That year, he married Vanessa Villanueva and later had two children. Although his band was rather successful, they disbanded in 2002. After his divorce from Vanessa, he formed another band in 2010 called the Chris Perez Project, but with little success. In 2012, he wrote the book “To Selena, With Love” without the permission of the Quintanilla family(!), which included personal photos and love letters between the two. Don’t worry, the family later approved the book’s publication.

Pete Astudillo – Backup Vocals

CREDIT: @pete_astudillo / Instagram

Pete Astudillo, who co-wrote some of Selena’s most popular songs like “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” and rocked that iconic mullet, went on to have a lot of success. He released five albums on his own, the last one in 1999. Aside from participating in Selena’s 2005 tribute concert, he has not released any other music.

Ricky Vela – Keyboards / Songwriter

CREDIT: @STILLDREAMINGOFYOU / INSTAGRAM

Ricky Vela (right of Suzette) was also co-brains behind a lot of Selena’s most popular songs, like “La Llamada,” “Fotos y Recuerdos,” and “El Chico Del Apartamento 512.” He continued writing music after Selena died, but slowed down after 1999.

Joe Ojeda – Keyboards

Credit: @souls5cinco / Instagram

Joe Ojeda continued composing music after Selena’s death. He wrote songs for Veronica Castro, Jennifer y Los Jetz, Pete Astudillo and Chris Perez. He, too, slowed down around 2010. 

READ: Fashion Crimes That Are Totally Okay IF You’re In Selena’s Band

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