HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A young girl who sought asylum in Horry County will have to take her request to a federal courthouse, according to 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
"I don't know how she got here, I just know that she will not be able to resolve her issues in Horry County,” said Richardson.
A police report shows a 16-year-old girl and a man made their way to the U.S. in January from Guatamala. In March, they ended up in the Conway area looking for work.
"There's going to be family, there's going to be some sort of ties that brought either her or the person who brought her here, here,” said Richardson.
According to Donusia Lipinski, an immigration lawyer in the Myrtle Beach area, asylum only applies if someone fears persecution based on race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
Lipinski took a look at the report provided by police.
“Unfortunately, there is very little information to go on. We do not know what relationship the man had to this teenager,” Lipinksi said, “I have talked with a lot of teenagers who left their home countries, alone, either with the permission of their parents or because they had been abandoned by one of the parents in their native country, and the other parent was living in the U.S. Some flee because they will be killed if remain in their home countries.”
Lipinski said in some cases, immigrants have been threatened; or a family member has been killed, tortured, or persecuted.
Richardson said how the young girl got here isn’t as nearly as important as what happens next.
“What does she do now? Because there is no resources here for seeking asylum,” he said.
Richardson said larger, federal hubs are likely to be able to help people seeking asylum.
An attorney that specializes in immigration law said he hasn’t seen many cases like this one, but it does happen.
"There are a few here and there but mostly its as a result of them being places with a relative that resides in South Carolina,” said William Pavy.
Richardson said this is just one example of something that’s happening on a larger scale across the country.
"What we’re dealing with on this one occasion is going on thousands of times in towns across Texas today,” he said.