Arabella* is a 7-year-old girl from El Salvador. Her mother abandoned her when she was just 3 years old, leaving her in the care of her paternal grandparents. Arabella’s father, who has been providing for her since she was born, organized for her to reunify with him in Maryland, where they both now live. Arabella is excited to start school again and needs a chance to stay with her only viable caretaker in the U.S. Due to her mother’s abandonment, Arabella is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Arabella is seeking a pro bono attorney to represent her in her immigration proceedings and all aspects of her SIJS application. 


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. 




Arabella* is a 7-year-old girl from El Salvador. When Arabella was 2 years old, her father traveled to the United States in an attempt to find a job in order to support the family financially, leaving Arabella in El Salvador with her mother. Arabella did not want to live with her mother because she would regularly abuse her. Out of necessity, she lived with her mother until she was 3, at which point her mother, who was unwilling to take care of her, abandoned her with her paternal grandparents. Her father called Arabella on the phone every day and planned on bringing her to the U.S. to live with him. While Arabella’s father was in the U.S. he acted as Arabella’s sole provider, sending her money for food and clothes. Finally, when Arabella’s grandparents passed away her father decided it was necessary for her to travel to the U.S. He arranged and paid for her travels across the border and reunified with Arabella in Maryland.  


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 Arabella will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice. 


  • Timeline: Arabella does not have any hearings scheduled currently. State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally to occur within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 4 to 8 months).    

  • Location: Howard County, MD (not detained)    

  • Language: Spanish - will require a fluent Spanish-speaking pro bono team member or an outside interpreter

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