Salvadoran Brothers Left by Father and Fearing Gangs, Need Help to Stay with Mother in Maryland (Emmanuel & Steven)
Emmanuel,* a 13-year-old, and Steven,* a 19-year-old, are brothers from El Salvador. The boys’ father left them while their mother was pregnant with Emmanuel and Steven was only five; he has not contacted them since. Needing to provide for the boys on her own, their mother moved to the United States in 2011. When Steven started seventh grade, members of MS-13 began to threaten to harm him. Steven, out of fear, stopped going to school and left to join his mother in the United States in 2017. In 2020, after a gang member kidnapped a fellow fifth-grade student, Emmanuel left for the United States as well. Based on their father’s abandonment, Emmanuel and Steven are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Emmanuel and Steven seek an attorney to represent them in all aspects of their SIJS proceedings.
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Emmanuel,* a 13-year-old boy, and Steven,* a 19-year-old boy, are siblings from El Salvador. The boys’ father left the home while their mother was pregnant with Emmanuel and Steven was only five. Since leaving, the boys’ father has had no contact with any of the family, leaving the boys’ mother to provide for them on her own. In 2011, mother moved to the United States, sending money and staying in close and constant contact. The boys remained with their maternal grandmother, aunt, and one other sibling.
When Steven started seventh grade, members of MS-13 began to threaten to beat him if he did not work for the gang. Steven, out of fear, stopped going to school and left to join his mother in the United States in 2017. When Emmanuel was in fifth-grade, he witnessed gang members kidnapping one of his fellow students. Out of fear, Emmanuel left to join his brother and mother in the United States in January of 2020. Both boys fear returning to El Salvador, where gang activity has not ceased and their grandmother has grown increasingly ill.
Emmanuel and Steven are eligible for SIJS due to abandonment 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 Emmanuel and Steven will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.
In order to assist Emmanuel and Steven, 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.
Despite separate arrivals, Emmanuel’s and Steven’s SIJS cases can likely be consolidated, and we seek an attorney to represent both of them. Steven also may be eligible for a U visa, which is available to vicitims of certain serious crimes who are willing to cooperate with law enforcement, because he and his friend were robbed when they were leaving school. The robbers beat Steven, and he received medical care from a nurse at school. Steven made a report to the police about the incident. A pro bono attorney will want to further develop these facts and assess whether to pursue a U visa.
Currently, there are no hearings scheduled in either child's removal proceedings. Steven had a master calendar (scheduling) hearing scheduled for January 12, 2021, but the Baltimore immigration court postponed that indefinitely because it is not holding scheduling hearings in non-detained cases yet, due to covid-19.
Emmanuel and Steven both speak Spanish.
Timeline: No immigration court hearings scheduled. In response to covid-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically. State court custody hearing for SIJS to occur ideally within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months).
Location: Baltimore, MD (not detained)
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