SIJS (MD): 17-YEAR-OLD GIRL NEGLECTED BY BOTH HER PARENTS AND FORCED TO WORK FROM A YOUNG AGE NEEDS ATTORNEY (Valeria)

Valeria* is a 17-year-old girl from Guatemala. Valeria came to the U.S. because her parents were unable to provide for her in Guatemala. She was forced to drop out of school due to her family's inability to supply her with the necessary resources. Since arriving in the U.S., Valeria has reunified with a pastor that her family is close to. The pastor and his wife now care for Valeria in Maryland. Valeria is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). She is seeking a pro bono attorney to represent her in her immigration proceedings and all aspects of her SIJS application.  

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.       

****  

Valeria* is a 17-year-old girl from Guatemala. Growing up in Guatemala, Valeria would often go hungry for days in a row when her parents failed to feed her and her sister. She also did not have sufficient clothing much of the time. Neither one of Valeria’s parents have a stable income. Her mother is not employed outside the home; her father also is not employed and tries to make do with a small amount of crops he grows. Valeria’s sister had a job that helped support the family in Guatemala, however the money her sister made was not enough for Valeria to stay in school, so Valeria was not able to complete Guatemala’s mandatory years of education. Valeria was upset to have to leave school and is looking forward to continuing her education in the U.S. 

 

Because Valeria’s parents did not provide her with the necessary food, clothing, or education, she came to the U.S. Valeria now lives with a pastor and his wife in Maryland. She hopes to support her family from the U.S. by sending them money when she can. Valeria is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) on the basis that both parents were neglectful in failing to provide her with basic necessities of life. She is seeking a pro bono attorney to represent her in her immigration proceedings and all aspects of her SIJS application.  

 

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 Valeria will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.   

 

  • Timeline: Valeria does not have any hearings scheduled currently. State court custody hearings for SIJS ideally occur to within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 8 to 10 months). 

  • Location: Howard County, MD (not detained) 

  • Language: Spanish - will require a fluent Spanish-speaking pro bono team member or a translator    

For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at jennifer@caircoalition.org or 202-866-9287   

  

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy