SIJS: Honduran Boy Abandoned by Father Wants to Stay With Mother in Virginia
Rogelio* is an 11-year-old boy from Honduras who wants to stay in the United States after having traveled here to reunite with his mother. In Honduras, he lived with his maternal grandmother after his mother moved to the United States to work and send money back to them. His father lived with him at the beginning of his life, but never supported him financially or emotionally. When Rogelio was five, his father moved out of their home and continued to not support him financially or emotionally. Due to abandonment and neglect by his father, he is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Rogelio currently lives in Sterling, VA, and seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings.
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Rogelio* is an 11-year-old boy from Honduras who wants to stay in the United States after having traveled here to reunite with his mother. In Honduras, he lived with his mother, grandmother and father until the age of 5; when Rogelio turned five, his mother and father separated and his father left their house permanently. While his father lived with them he drank heavily, never had a stable job and never supported him or the family financially, which constituted neglect. When he moved out, he continued to not support Rogelio financially or emotionally, distancing himself even further from the family. Except for the single time between now and then that his father visited their household briefly, the family has not spoken with Rogelio’s father and has no idea where he is.
Rogelio’s mother has always been his main caretaker, supporting him financially and spending time with him. Before his mother left for the United States, she built a house for Rogelio and his grandmother to live in and continued to send money back for them while she was here and he was in Honduras. Although Rogelio was happy living with his grandmother in Honduras and does not fear returning, he wants to stay here, and his mother believes it is in his best interests for him to live with her here.
Rogelio is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment and neglect by his 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 Rogelio will need to be barred in Virginia or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.
In order to assist Rogelio, 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 also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearing”) with an Immigration Judge.
Currently, there are no hearings scheduled in Rogelio’s removal proceedings.
Rogelio lives in Sterling, Virginia, which is in Loudoun County, and speaks Spanish.
Timeline: No Immigration Court hearing scheduled yet; State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally within about 4 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: Sterling (Loudoun County), VA.
For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-866-9287.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy