HELP YOUNG BOY ABANDONED BY FATHER PURSUE A BETTER LIFE WITH AUNT IN MARYLAND (Daniel)

Daniel* is a 15-year-old boy from Guatemala. Daniel was abandoned by his father as a young boy. Daniel has had no contact with his father since his abandonment and does not know where his father is or even remember his father’s name. Daniel stopped going to school in 3rd grade and began helping his mother work and with tasks around the house. His mother does not have enough money to support her five sons, and this lack of resources caused Daniel to come to the United States. Daniel is now living with his aunt in Maryland. Based on his father’s neglect, Daniel is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Daniel 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.    

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Daniel* is a 15-year-old boy from Guatemala. Daniel grew up with his mother and four siblings. Daniel was abandoned by his father as a young boy. His father would drink often and worked far away from home, leaving for long stretches of time. Eventually, his father left for another woman and abandoned the family. Daniel does not remember living with his father and does not think he has ever communicated with his father. Daniel knows nothing about his father and does not even remember his name.  

Daniel stopped going to school in the 3rd grade. His mother wanted him to continue going to school, but Daniel refused. Daniel did not like going to school and would cry thinking about it. Daniel once came home from school with bruises and refused to tell his mother what happened, and after this incident, he refused to leave the house at night. His mother suspected that gang members may have been targeting Daniel but Daniel has always refused to discuss this. After dropping out of school, Daniel helped his mother with her work and with caring for the house. Daniel’s mother and older brothers all work, but the family still does not have enough to support themselves. This lack of resources made Daniel want to come to the United States. He is currently living with his aunt in Maryland.  

Daniel is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by his 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 Daniel will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.   

In order to assist Daniel, 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 SIJS application packages with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with the child 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: Daniel does not have any hearings scheduled currently.  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: Montgomery County, Maryland (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