SIJS (MD): BOY ABANDONED BY HIS FATHER AND THREATENED BY GANGS NOW HAS OPPORTUNITY TO STAY WITH MOTHER IN MARYLAND (Javi)

Javi* is a 13-year-old boy from Honduras. He endured a childhood plagued by gang violence and threats. His father and uncle, as members of a rival gang, were both assassinated at the hands of a powerful gang, and Javi was subject to gang recruitment efforts while at school. The recruitment attempts became so threatening that Javi was forced to stop attending school despite wanting an education. Javi fled to the U.S. alone when he was just 12 years old to escape the plethora of gang threats that nobody should have to endure. Due to the early death of his gang-involved father, Javi is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Because Javi was directly threatened by the gangs, he may also be eligible for asylum, and a pro bono attorney should explore that as another form of relief.  He is seeking a pro bono attorney to represent him in his immigration proceedings and all aspects of his 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.       

****  

Javi* is a 13-year-old boy from Honduras. When Javi was just three months old a gang violently assassinated his father, who was a known gang member, and just a few years later killed his uncle. After Javi was born, his mother decided it would be too dangerous for him to be associated in any way with his father. As a result, she insisted that her own stepfather be listed on Javi’s birth certificate in place of Javi’s father.  

 

Growing up in Honduras, Javi quickly became the target of gang recruitment efforts. Gangs in Honduras are known to recruit children, and to threaten or even kill their families if they refuse to join. The situation was especially dangerous for Javi as his father was involved with one of the primary gangs in Honduras. The gangs recognized Javi and would confront him at school trying to force him to buy them drugs. Javi’s refusal to help them only made the gang angrier. In one instance, members of the gang pulled out their guns to scare Javi into doing their bidding. Javi’s family was forced to stop sending him to school out of concern for his safety. Javi fled Honduras alone to escape the gangs and has reunified with his mother and her husband in Maryland.  

 

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

Because Javi was directly threatened by the gangs, he may also be eligible for asylum, and a pro bono attorney should explore that as another form of relief. 

 

Special Considerations:  

As noted above, Javi’s step-grandfather is listed as the biological father on Javi’s birth certificate, and the reason this was done will need to be explained in the state court proceedings. Javi’s mom and her husband seek to establish joint custody of Javi as the state court mechanism for obtaining SIJS findings. 

  • Timeline: Javi has a hearing scheduled for May 16, 2023. State court custody hearings for SIJS ideally to take place within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 8 to 10 months). 

  • Location: Montgomery, 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 Jennifer Grishkin, Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Coordination, at jennifer@caircoalition.org.  

  

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy