Asylum, T Visa, U Visa: Severely Abused Guatemalan Child Is Eligible for Several Forms of Immigration Relief

Ignacio* is a 15-year-old boy from Guatemala. For as long as he can remember, Ignacio endured torturous abuse and neglect at the hands of his father both in Guatemala and here in the United States. On one occasion, Ignacio’s father broke Ignacio’s arm while they were living in Alabama, and police removed Ignacio from his father’s custody. Ignacio is eligible for asylum, the T visa for human trafficking victims, and the U visa for survivors of crime in the United States. The government is currently detaining Ignacio in Virginia.


CAIR Coalition matters placed with a pro bono team are robustly mentored by a CAIR Coalition attorney. Our mentoring program includes an opening meeting to discuss the scope and process of the matter, provision of samples, guidance on the law, review of draft filings, assistance with client contact, and guidance on preparation for interviews and hearings.




Ignacio* is a 15-year-old boy from Guatemala. Ignacio grew up on a humble ranch located on a coffee plantation with his six siblings, parents, and grandparents. For as long as he can remember, Ignacio’s father severely abused Ignacio and his siblings. After one particularly atrocious beating, Ignacio stopped going to school because he began experiencing cognitive problems and memory loss. Now in interviews, Ignacio sometimes provides conflicting versions of the same event, and has difficulty providing a consistent timeline. Although these issues may make Ignacio’s legal representation more challenging, they are evidence of the abuse.


When Ignacio was 15 years old, his father decided to travel to the United States to work and brought Ignacio along.  One night, Ignacio’s father forced Ignacio to drink alcohol. When Ignacio refused to drink more, Ignacio’s father beat him, breaking his arm. The police arrested Ignacio’s father and placed Ignacio in the care of Child Protective Services (“CPS”) in Alabama. Later, after an incident with one of Ignacio’s foster brothers in Alabama, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”) took custody of Ignacio and detained him in Virginia. 


Ignacio has struggled to adjust to life in the United States, likely because of his father’s abuse, his head trauma, and his limited Spanish skills. In Alabama, Ignacio brought a knife to school to protect himself against children who were bullying him, and the school asked Ignacio to leave. After CPS removed Ignacio’s from his father’s care and placed him with a foster family in Alabama, Ignacio’s foster brother accused Ignacio of touching him inappropriately and CPS transferred Ignacio to the ORR.


Ignacio urgently needs pro bono counsel to represent him before United States’ Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and the Immigration Court. Ignacio is eligible for many types of immigration relief, including asylum, the T visa, and the U visa. Because of Ignacio’s cognitive difficulties, he will likely need a competency hearing to determine the protections he requires to proceed in court. 


The government is currently detaining Ignacio at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center, an immigration detention center located approximately three hours from Washington, DC. Ignacio speaks Chuj de San Sebastian and some Spanish


Please contact our Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney, Jennifer Grishkin at (202) 866-9287, or, if you are interested in taking this case.


*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.

Resource Type

Review of Gender, Child, and LGBTI Asylum Guidelines and Case Law in Foreign Jurisdictions

Practice advisory from the Center for Gender & Refuge Studies intended for use by U.S. attorneys representing asylum seekers involving claims of gender-based persecution and sexual orientation and gender identity-related persecution as well as claims involving child applicants. This resource first discusses what these types of claims entail and how they are defined. Then it provides country by country summaries of any relevant laws, regulations, guidelines, case law, and other sources on these types of claims in key refugee receiving jurisdictions.

Central American-Mexican Gang Claims: Social Group Considerations and Working with Expert Witnesses

A report from an expert on Central American gang issues on how to work with expert witnesses in fear-based immigration relief cases.

Attachment Size
14345867097_2_gangclaims_TomBoerman.pdf 93.54 KB

Practice Advisory on Domestic Violence-Based Asylum Claims

This Practice Advisory from the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies focuses on fear-based claims (e.g., asylum) based on violence against women and girls at the hands of intimate partners. It explores laws and guidance on how to represent clients with these claims.

A Supplement to First Steps: A Guide for Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Migrants Released from Detention

A Supplement to First Steps: An LIRS Guide for Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Migrants Released from Detention. This resource provides specific information on rights, responsibilities, and benefits for lawful permanent residents (LPRs), also known as permanent resident aliens, legal permanent residents, and green card holders.

Attachment Size
1441226435LIRS_FirstSteps_LPR.pdf 780.02 KB

NIJC Particular Social Group Practice Advisory

Practice advisory from the National Immigrant Justice Center, exploring how to craft particular social groups in fear-based immigration cases, with a special focus on how courts treat social visibility as an element of a social group definition.

CAIR Coalition Practice Manual for Pro Bono Attorneys Representing Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

This manual is intended to provide practical and useful information for attorneys acting as pro bono counsel for unaccompanied minors in the immigration detention and removal system. The manual covers the four most common forms of relief available to immigrant children: asylum, U visa, T visa and SIJ status.