Help Salvadoran Brothers Evade Their Father’s Gang and Stay with Their Mother (Cristian & Roberto)
Cristian* and Roberto* are 16- and 12-year-old boys from El Salvador. Their father, a member of a violent gang, left the home before Roberto was born and was eventually jailed for homicide. Cristian and Roberto came to the United States to join their mother after their caretaker aunt could no longer afford to care for them and received threats from their father. Cristian and Roberto now live with their mother in Maryland. Based on their father's neglect, Cristian and Roberto are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Cristian and Roberto seek an attorney to represent them in all aspects of their SIJS proceedings. Alternatively, the boys fear returning to El Salvador because of their father’s gang and are eligible for asylum or withholding from removal.
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Cristian* and Roberto* are 16- and 12-year-old boys from El Salvador. Their father, a high-ranking member of a violent gang, left the home before Roberto was born, when Cristian was 3, and was eventually jailed for homicide. Neither Cristian nor Roberto have seen their father since and he never provided for them financially. The boys’ mother came to the United States in 2014 to provide for the boys and evade death threats by their father. She continued to speak with the boys daily and provided for them financially after departing.
After the boys’ mother moved to the United States, they stayed with various family members but eventually settled with their maternal aunt. The boys came to the United States in February 2020 because their maternal aunt could no longer afford to care for them and their father threatened to take them away when he gets out of jail. The boys are now reunited with their mother in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Cristian fears he would be brought into his father’s gang and taken away from his family if he were to return to El Salvador. Their father has threatened his mother’s life, abused her during their relationship, and has told Cristian that he will be out of jail soon. Roberto does not know the extent of his father’s threats or gang dealings, but his gang has watched and controlled the boys due to their father’s membership.
Cristian and Roberto are eligible for SIJS due to neglect 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 Cristian and Roberto will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice. Alternatively, Cristian and Roberto will need an attorney to represent them in an asylum claim or in withholding from removal based on their fear of returning to El Salvador.
In order to assist Cristian and Roberto, 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.
Currently, there are no hearings scheduled in Cristian and Roberto’s removal proceedings.
Cristian and Roberto speak Spanish and are living in Baltimore County, Maryland with their mother.
Timeline: There are no currently scheduled hearings in this case; State court custody hearings 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 remotely.
Location: Baltimore County, Maryland (not detained)
For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-866-9287.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy