SIJS: Honduran Child Who Was Abandoned by his Father Wants To Stay with his Mother in Maryland
Marvin* is a 13-year-old boy from Honduras. Before Marvin was born, his father abandoned him and his mother and maintained only sporadic contact with his son, seeing Marvin infrequently on weekends, and occasionally giving him money to buy small things like a taco. Marvin came to the United States a year and a half after his mother when his grandmother became too sick to take care of him. He currently lives with his mother in Maryland. Based on his father’s abandonment, he is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Marvin seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings.
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Before Marvin* was born, his father abandoned him and his mother and maintained only sporadic contact with his son, seeing Marvin infrequently on weekends, and occasionally giving him money to buy small things like a taco. At no point in Marvin’s life has his father shown any interest in taking parental responsibility for him. During his time living in Honduras, Marvin and his family were forced to relocate due to threats of violence and harassment from gang members in their community directed at both Marvin and his mother. Unfortunately, this harassment continued at the hands of others after the family moved from Marvin’s hometown.
Eventually, when Marvin was eleven, his mother was forced to migrate to the United States with Marvin’s younger half-sibling to support the family. From the United States, Marvin’s mother sent money back to Honduras to cover all of his expenses. While his mother was away, Marvin lived with his grandmother, and was cared for and treated well. However, due to her old age, she was not able to take care of him for long, and Marvin was forced to follow his mother to the United States, as there was no one left in Honduras to take care of him due to his father’s abandonment.
Marvin is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment 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 Marvin will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.
In order to assist Marvin, 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.
Marvin has a master calendar hearing scheduled for October 20, 2020, in Baltimore. Merits hearing date has not been set. In response to COVID-19, the courts currently permit attorneys to attend all hearings telephonically.
Marvin lives in Baltimore County, Maryland, and speaks Spanish.
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