SIJS: 16-Year Old Honduran Girl, Abandoned by Both Parents, Has No One in Her Home Country to Care for Her

Paola* is a 16-year-old girl from Honduras who is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status because she was abandoned by both her parents. Paola's father abandoned her before birth, and her mother abandoned her when she was only 5 years old.  Paola wants to remain in the United States with other family members and go to school. 

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.  




Paola is from Honduras. Her father abandoned her before she was born because he was already married to a woman other than Paola's mother and had a family with her. Then, when Paola was 5, her mother decided that she no longer wanted her either. Paola's mother gave Paola away to the only person willing to take care of her, Paola's stepsister, handing her over without any documents or even clothing.  


For some time, Paola was cared for by her stepsister and her husband. Last year, the stepsister's husband left Honduras for the United States.  Shortly after a group of men threatened Paola, the stepsister and Paola also left Honduras for the United States.  


There is no adult in her home country willing or able to assume responsibility for Paola.


Paola is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by her parents.  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.  SIJS requires three approvals, one from a state family court and two from USCIS.


In order to assist Paola 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 an 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 may also be a brief scheduling hearing with an Immigration Judge.


Paola speaks Spanish and is living with her stepsister and a brother in Maryland.


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


*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.