Indigenous Teenage Girl from Guatemala Seeks Asylum

Maria* is a 15-year-old indigenous girl from Guatemala who was trapped in homelessness and a cycle of threats and discrimination due to her being indigenous. At times, she could not understand the hateful comments directed to her by others, as she does not speak Spanish.  She fled and is now seeing asylum here in the United States. She is also legible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.


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.



Maria was living with her mother and sister in Guatemala when they lost their home. For some time, they were homeless or lived in squalid conditions in rented rooms.  They are indigenous and speak Ixil, a Mayan language.  Due to their being indigenous, Maria and her family were targeted. 


In 2017, Maria lived near a group of men who drank and used drugs, they would always watch her and would follow her. She understood them to be a threat, but could not get help from the police.  Scared that she would continue to face discrimination and be harmed because of her background, Maria fled to the United States.


Maria is living in Virginia.  She is eligible for asylum and for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.


SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children 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.


For more information about this case, please contact Michael Lukens at 202-870-5962 or


*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.


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