HELP SIBLINGS ABANDONED BY ABUSIVE FATHER STAY WITH THEIR MOTHER IN MARYLAND

David* and Tomas* are 10-year-old and 8-Year-old siblings from Honduras. Their father and mother separated when the siblings were young, due to the father's abuse of the siblings and their mother. Their father would drink excessively and be violent towards the siblings’ mother, even while the mother was pregnant. The father would hit and verbally abuse the children when they misbehaved. The mother left with the children and started a custody battle. The father eventually stopped visiting and financially supporting the children. In 2019, the mother began receiving anonymous death threats and fled to U.S. with Tomas. David has since arrived to the U.S. and reunified with his mother and brother in 2020. Based on their father’s neglect and abandonment, David and Tomas are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. David and Tomas seek an attorney to represent them in all aspects of their SIJS proceedings. 

All 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.   

**** 

David* and Tomas* are 10-year-old and 8-Year-old siblings from Honduras. Their mother suffered years of abuse at the hands of their father, who would drink excessively and be violent with her. The abuse continued even while she was pregnant, and even once in the presence of the children. The father would hit and curse at the children when they misbehaved. In 2016, their mother left him and took the children with her and filed for custody shortly thereafter, but was forced to share custody with the father. 

When the siblings spent time at the father’s house, they were exposed to a dangerous environment. He ran a business from his house that entailed inviting people over to drink and play games. The siblings recount memories of men becoming extremely drunk, fighting, throwing beer bottles, and even shooting off guns within the house. In 2017, the mother filed a complaint for domestic violence and was granted a protective order against the father the next year. He broke the terms of the protective order but was still allowed visitation. After this, the father stopped visiting the children and stopped paying child support. The mother filed for full custody and shortly thereafter began receiving anonymous death threats. Afraid for her life, she fled to the U.S., but could only afford to take Tomas with her. In 2019, David traveled to the U.S. and is now reunified with his mother and brother in Maryland.  

David and Tomas are eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by their father. SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, who cannot be reunified with one or both parents, and for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest. SIJS requires three approvals, one from a state family court and two from USCIS. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents David and Tomas will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice. 

In order to assist David and Tomas, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order that the children meet the requirements for SIJS; prepare and submit SIJS application packages with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with the children at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews, if required; and handle the adjustment of status paperwork. There also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearing”) with an Immigration Judge. 

Alternatively, the siblings may be eligible for asylum based on abuse from the father. A pro bono attorney will want to further explore this possibility and determine whether asylum is a viable option for the siblings. 

Special consideration: The siblings’ mother was granted full custody in Honduras. However, she does not have copies of these documents and CAIR Coalition’s efforts to obtain the original documents have been unsuccessful so far. The attorney in Honduras is demanding approximately $250 to send the documents. It will be important to obtain the custody order as part of the state court proceedings to request a modification of the order to sole custody. A pro bono attorney officially representing the family may be more successful in this effort than our staff was absent an attorney-client relationship. 

Timeline: Tomas does not have any hearings scheduled. David has a master calendar (scheduling) hearing April 12, 2022 in Baltimore, MD. In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically. State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally occur within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months). 

              Location: Baltimore, MD (not detained) 

              Language: Spanish

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at jennifer@caircoalition.org or 202-866-9287. 

  

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy 

 

 

 

Help Abandoned Boy Stay Safe with Mother in Virginia (Joshua)

Joshua* is an 11-year-old boy from El Salvador. Shortly after Joshua was born, he and his mother were abandoned by his father. Joshua’s father never wanted him, so they have never had any relationship. His father also never financially supported Joshua or his mother. When Joshua’s mother came to the United States to support her family, Joshua was left without a stable caretaker in an environment where he was attacked and bullied in school. Due to his father’s abandonment and a lack of a viable caretaker, Joshua is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Joshua seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings.  

All 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.   

****** 

Joshua is an 11-year-old boy from El Salvador. Before Joshua was born, his father would abuse and mistreat his mother. As an infant, Joshua’s father abandoned him and his mother. Joshua has never met his father and has never communicated with him because his father never wanted Joshua. Joshua’s father had no interest in parental duties and never financially provided for Joshua. Joshua’s mother was left to raise and support Joshua by herself. 

When Joshua was a young child, his mother migrated to the United States to support her family. In her absence, Joshua lived with his maternal grandmother. While in her care, Joshua attended a school where he was violently bullied by other students. Joshua’s grandmother complained to the school, but nothing changed. Joshua’s grandmother is elderly and is no longer able to take care of him.

Joshua left El Salvador and has reunified with his mother and brother in Virginia. His mother has her own pending asylum application, so an attorney representing Joshua will want to explore if Joshua can be made a derivative of her application. Additionally, the attorney should assess Joshua for trafficking-based relief eligibility. Joshua’s brother is also undergoing immigration proceedings and is in his mother’s custody.

Due to Joshua’s father’s abandonment and a lack of a viable caretaker in El Salvador, Joshua is eligible for SIJS. SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, who cannot be reunified with one or both parents, and for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest. SIJS requires three approvals, one from a state family court and two from USCIS. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents Joshua will need to be barred in Virginia or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.

In order to assist Joshua, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order that he meets the requirements for SIJS; prepare and submit a SIJS application package with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with him at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews, if required; and handle the adjustment of status paperwork. There also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearing”) with an Immigration Judge. 

Timeline: Joshua has a master (scheduling) hearing on March 2, 2021, in Arlington. State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months). In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically.

Location: Fairfax County, VA (not detained)                                                        

Language: Spanish

 For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at  jennifer@caircoalition.org  or 202-866-9287.

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.

HELP NEGLECTED BOY REMAIN SAFE WITH HIS MOTHER IN MARYLAND (Ernesto)

Ernesto* is a 12-year-old-boy from El Salvador. When Ernesto's mother was 17 years old, she worked as a housemaid. While working, she was raped by Ernesto's father and became pregnant. After Ernesto was born, his father refused to acknowledge him as his child and neglected Ernesto. The father paid child support for one year but never provided for Ernesto in any other capacity. Once Ernesto’s mother immigrated to the United States, Ernesto lived with family members until they either grew too old to care for him or passed away. Because his father neglected him and he does not have a viable caretaker in El Salvador, Ernesto is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Ernesto seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings. 

 

All 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. 

 

*****

 

Ernesto is a 12-year-old-boy from El Salvador who wishes to remain safe with his mother in the United States. When his mother was 17 years old, she worked as a housemaid and lived in the house that she cleaned. Ernesto’s father had a key to that house and used it to access Ernesto’s mother to rape her. After being raped, Ernesto’s mother discovered that she was pregnant, but Ernesto’s father said that he was not the father. Ernesto’s mother had to go to court to force the father to claim Ernesto and to pay child support. However, Ernesto’s father only paid child support for one year, as he never wanted Ernesto or any parental responsibilities. Furthermore, throughout Ernesto’s entire childhood, he has only seen his father two times. 

 

When Ernesto was 1 year old, his mother left El Salvador for the United States. From the U.S., Ernesto’s mother provided for him by sending him items. In his mother's absence, Ernesto was cared for by his maternal grandparents. However, his grandparents passed away, leaving him in the care of his aunt. His aunt eventually grew elderly and was no longer able to take care of him. When Ernesto lived with his grandparents and aunt, he lived in an unsafe neighborhood. The neighborhood was dangerous and violent; gangs had a lot of power and Ernesto was at threat of being recruited. 

 

Without a viable caretaker to raise him, Ernesto left El Salvador to reunify with his mother and to escape gang violence. Due to his father’s abandonment and a lack of a caretaker in El Salvador, it is in Ernesto’s best interest to permanently live in the United States with his mother.

 

Ernesto is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Ernesto seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings.

 

SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, who cannot be reunified with one or both parents, and for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest. SIJS requires three approvals, one from a state family court and two from USCIS. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents Ernesto will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice. 

 

In order to assist Ernesto, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order that the child meets the requirements for SIJS; prepare and submit a SIJS application package with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with the child at a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interview, if required; and handle the adjustment of status paperwork. There also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearing”) with an Immigration Judge. 

 

Timeline: No Immigration court hearings scheduled yet; State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months). In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically. 

Location: Prince George’s County, MD (not detained)

Language: Spanish

 

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at jennifer@caircoalition.org or 202-866-9287. 

 

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy 

 

 

 

 

 

HELP ABANDONED SIBLINGS STAY SAFE IN MARYLAND (Talia & Franco)

Talia* and Franco* are 15-year-old and 13-year-old siblings from El Salvador. When Talia and Franco were very young, their father abandoned them. Their father never had any relationship with his children and never financially supported them, leaving their mother to be the sole provider. When Talia’s and Franco’s mother received threats from the gangs in their neighborhood, the mother fled El Salvador and came to the United States. After their mother's departure, Talia and Franco lived with their maternal grandparents until they became too old and sick to take care of the children. Since coming to the United States, Talia and Franco have been reunited with their mother in Maryland. Based on their father’s abandonment and the lack of a viable caretaker in El Salvador, Talia and Franco are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Talia and Franco seek an attorney to represent them in all aspects of their SIJS proceedings.

 

All 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. 

*****

 

Talia and Franco are 15-year-old and 13-year-old siblings from El Salvador. Talia’s and Franco’s father abandoned them when they were babies so Talia and Franco never had a relationship with their father. The father was often drunk and rarely visited his children. He also never financially supported his children even though Talia and Franco’s mother had received a court order to force the father to pay child support. Consequently, Talia and Franco were raised by their single mother.

 

Growing up, Talia and Franco lived in a gang-ridden neighborhood. The children were constantly at risk of gang violence, threats, and extortion, and when Talia was 10 and Franco was 8, their mother received a series of armed threats from the gangs. They would come to Talia and Franco’s home and would threaten their mother with violence. To escape this danger, Talia and Franco’s mother fled El Salvador, leaving the children in the care of their maternal grandparents and maternal uncle.

 

While living with their grandparents and uncle, Talia and Franco continued to live in a dangerous neighborhood where they were at risk of gang violence. Eventually, their grandparents grew too old and the uncle grew sick so they were no longer able to take care of Talia and Franco. Left without a viable caretaker, Talia and Franco left El Salvador and reunified with their mother in Maryland.

 

Talia and Franco’s mother has already applied for asylum and has a court hearing planned for 2021. It is possible for Talia and Franco to be added on as derivatives to their mother's application, but would have to be a case strategy decision considering their mother's application could be denied. A pro bono attorney may want to explore asylum claims for Talia and Franco.

 

Due to their father’s abandonment and the lack of a viable caretaker in El Salvador, Talia and Franco are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, who cannot be reunified with one or both parents, and for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest. SIJS requires three approvals, one from a state family court and two from USCIS. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents Talia and Franco will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice. 

 

In order to assist Talia and Franco, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order that the children  meet the requirements for SIJS; prepare and submit a SIJS application package with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with the children at a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interview, if required; and handle the adjustment of status paperwork. There also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearing”) with an Immigration Judge. 

  

 

Timeline: No scheduled Immigration Court hearings. State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months). In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically. 

 

Location: Prince George’s County, MD. 

 

Language: Spanish

 

 

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at  jennifer@caircoalition.org  or 202-866-9287. 

  

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy 

 

 

 

Salvadoran Brothers Left by Father and Fearing Gangs, Need Help to Stay with Mother in Maryland (Emmanuel & Steven)

Emmanuel,* a 13-year-old, and Steven,* a 19-year-old, are brothers from El Salvador. The boys’ father left them while their mother was pregnant with Emmanuel and Steven was only five; he has not contacted them since. Needing to provide for the boys on her own, their mother moved to the United States in 2011. When Steven started seventh grade, members of MS-13 began to threaten to harm him. Steven, out of fear, stopped going to school and left to join his mother in the United States in 2017. In 2020, after a gang member kidnapped a fellow fifth-grade student, Emmanuel left for the United States as well. Based on their father’s abandonment, Emmanuel and Steven are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Emmanuel and Steven seek an attorney to represent them in all aspects of their SIJS proceedings.

 

All 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.  

 

******

 

Emmanuel,* a 13-year-old boy, and Steven,* a 19-year-old boy, are siblings from El Salvador. The boys’ father left the home while their mother was pregnant with Emmanuel and Steven was only five. Since leaving, the boys’ father has had no contact with any of the family, leaving the boys’ mother to provide for them on her own. In 2011, mother moved to the United States, sending money and staying in close and constant contact. The boys remained with their maternal grandmother, aunt, and one other sibling.

 

When Steven started seventh grade, members of MS-13 began to threaten to beat him if he did not work for the gang. Steven, out of fear, stopped going to school and left to join his mother in the United States in 2017. When Emmanuel was in fifth-grade, he witnessed gang members kidnapping one of his fellow students. Out of fear, Emmanuel left to join his brother and mother in the United States in January of 2020. Both boys fear returning to El Salvador, where gang activity has not ceased and their grandmother has grown increasingly ill.

 

Emmanuel and Steven are eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by their father. SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, who cannot be reunified with one or both parents, and for whom returning to their home country is not in their best interest. SIJS requires three approvals, one from a state family court and two from USCIS. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents Emmanuel and Steven will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.

 

In order to assist Emmanuel and Steven, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order that the children meet the requirements for SIJS; prepare and submit SIJS application packages with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with the children at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews, if required; and handle the adjustment of status paperwork. There also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearing”) with an Immigration Judge.

 

Despite separate arrivals, Emmanuel’s and Steven’s SIJS cases can likely be consolidated, and we seek an attorney to represent both of them. Steven also may be eligible for a U visa, which is available to vicitims of certain serious crimes who are willing to cooperate with law enforcement, because he and his friend were robbed when they were leaving school. The robbers beat Steven, and he received medical care from a nurse at school. Steven made a report to the police about the incident. A pro bono attorney will want to further develop these facts and assess whether to pursue a U visa. 

 

Currently, there are no hearings scheduled in either child's removal proceedings. Steven had a master calendar (scheduling) hearing scheduled for January 12, 2021, but the Baltimore immigration court postponed that indefinitely because it is not holding scheduling hearings in non-detained cases yet, due to covid-19. 

 

Emmanuel and Steven both speak Spanish.

 

Timeline: No immigration court hearings scheduled. In response to covid-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically. State court custody hearing for SIJS to occur ideally within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months).

Location: Baltimore, MD (not detained)

Language: Spanish

 

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at jennifer@caircoalition.org or 202-866-9287.

 

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy

Pro Bono Alert: New Best Practices for Proposed SIJS Orders For State Court (Added 2017)

This Practice Advisory provides new best practices on how to best draft proposed predicate orders when proceeding in state court during a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) case. In short, when drafting proposed SIJS orders, it is now recommended that draft orders cite, and speak to, the specific state laws.  

 

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