When he turned 8, Davis started working in order to help his household make ends meet. He would go to school in the evenings and tried to live a normal student’s life despite the exhaustion he felt from a full day of work, and the worries that come with supporting a household. 

School was not easy for him. His classmates and teacher bullied him for the way he walked and talked. The teachers would try to “fix him”, demanding that he “walk and talk correctly”, and the students would beat him and call him names.  

The bullying did not stop when he got home. As his family started to catch on to his sexual orientation, they rejected him. He felt completely alone, and he worried about the possibility of his family throwing him out. With the meager wages and minimal opportunities in El Salvador, his options for supporting himself were limited.  

Davis, along with many other LGBT individuals in El Salvador, stand in a precarious economic situation. The 

country’s poor economic

conditions combined with 

stigma reduce job 

prospects for LGBT individuals,

often pushing them into sex work and other dangerous 


When one of Davis’ friends was killed for being gay, he realized that he needed to leave.

El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and LGBT people are among the most vulnerable to violence. Since 1994, over 600 LGBT people have been killed and none of these murders has been successfully prosecuted. 

At age 16, Davis set out for the United States. His journey spanned over 2,700 miles of walking, riding buses, trudging through wide rivers, 

and searching for warm hiding spots to sleep through the cold February nights. Once he arrived at the US Border, he was held at a shelter where he

Davis working with ImmDef Staff Attorney, Neysa Nankervis

eventually connected with ImmDef. Our team worked diligently to get Davis released from the shelter and win his asylum case based on well-founded fears of persecution in El Salvador due to his sexual orientation.

Davis has been living in the United States for more than three years. He is now 18 years old, living on his own, and working on finishing high school so that he can start college courses and work towards becoming a lawyer or a doctor. He is a source of strength for many of his LGBTQ friends who are still struggling with coming to terms with their identities, and the rejection and discrimination 

that they have had to endure as a result of it. When asked what advice he would give to others going through what he went through, this is what he had to say, 


“Some people are never going to be happy with who you are. They will always criticize you, even when you are being good. But you must keep moving forward. You have a right to be you, and no one has the right to discriminate against you.” 

To learn more about ways to join ImmDef on its mission to support immigrant communities against systemic injustice in the legal system, click here.

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