SIJS: Forced to work the fields at 12 and Abandoned by Father, Teen Wants to Fight Deportation

Oscar* is a 17-year-old Guatemalan boy who was neglected by his alcoholic father and forced to work in the fields at the age of twelve.  The money he earned was used to feed his siblings and mother, as well as himself.  Now that he is in the United States, Oscar is living in Maryland with his great aunt and doing well.  He wants to stay with her and needs pro bono help to fight deportation.


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.  




Oscar grew up in Guatemala, where he lived with his parents and three siblings.  Oscar's father, an alcoholic, worked in the fields about 1-3 times a week.  Any money he earned would go directly into buying alcohol. Oscar's father told Oscar that it was Oscar's responsibility to support the family.  At that time, Oscar was only 12 years old. Oscar began working in the fields at age of 12, giving any money he earned to his mother so that she could buy food.  His sister left the home for one to two months each year to also help earn some money for food.  Sometimes the family had no money for food. Eventually, Oscar fled to the United States.


Oscar' sgreat-aunt, living in Maryland, is now seeking custody.  He wants to stay in the United States with her.  


Oscar is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by his father.  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 Oscar , 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.


Oscar's native language is Kiche, but he also speaks Spanish fluently.


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


*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.