HELP YOUNG SALVADORAN BOY STAY SAFE IN MARYLAND
Bowen* is a 12-year-old boy from El Salvador. Bowen’s father abandoned him when he was a baby and his mother left him for the United States when he was young. Bowen grew up with a relative and was under constant threat of gang violence. In 2019, Bowen was forced to stop attending school so that he could migrate to the United States where he would be safe. Since arriving in Maryland, Bowen has reunified and has lived with his mother. Based on his father’s abandonment, Bowen is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Bowen seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings.
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Bowen is a 12-year-old boy from El Salvador. Bowen’s father abandoned him when he was a baby, so Bowen has no recollection of him. Bowen has never had a relationship with his father as he has never provided for his son; Bowen does not know why his parents are separated and it is clear that Bowen’s father has no interest in his son. Bowen was raised by his mother until she migrated to the United States in 2011. Following his mother's departure, Bowen was taken care of by his great Grandmother.
While Bowen was separated from his mother, she often contacted him and sent him money from Maryland. They managed to maintain a good relationship during her absence. With his great grandmother, Bowen was raised in a safe household and kept away from his father. However, in El Salvador, Bowen and his great grandmother lived in a neighborhood that was filled with theft, extortion, and violence. Thus, Bowen and his great grandmother were constantly threatened by gang crime.
Bowen’s great grandmother eventually became elderly and unable to care for Bowen. After Bowen finished 7th grade in 2019, Bowen traveled to the United States with the help of a guide that his mother paid for. Once Bowen reached the United States, he was reunified with his mother and his grandmother in Maryland. Bowen now lives with his mother outside of Baltimore.
Due to his father’s abandonment and neglect, Bowen is 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 Bowen will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.
In order to assist Bowen, 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 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 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: Baltimore County, MD.
For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at email@example.com or 202-866-9287.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy