SIJS (MD): GUATEMALAN TEEN WORKED SIX DAYS A WEEK TO SUPPORT HIS FAMILY WHILE HIS FATHER SPENT HIS OWN EARNINGS ON ALCOHOL (Fredy)

Fredy* is a 17-year-old boy from Guatemala. He grew up living with his parents and five siblings. Fredy’s father was employed but abused alcohol and spent 85% of his earnings on alcohol. As a result, Fredy worked two jobs to help support his family. Fredy now lives with his maternal uncle in Maryland. He is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which is available to children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. He needs a pro bono attorney to represent him in his immigration proceedings and all aspects of his SIJS application. Fredy may also be eligible for asylum based on his potentially witnessing a robbery before he left Guatemala, and a pro bono attorney should explore that as another form of relief from 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.      

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Fredy* is a 17-year-old boy from Guatemala. He grew up with his parents and five siblings. Fredy’s father, Peter*, drank heavily almost every day. Peter was not violent when drunk, but he essentially would neglect the family entirely when he was drinking. Peter was employed but only worked to earn money to buy alcohol. He almost never spent any time with his family. He would leave in the morning, work and spend his day drinking on the street, then come home late at night. According to Fredy’s uncle with whom Fredy now lives, Peter spent 85% of the money he earned on alcohol and only 15% on his family. Peter died recently at age 40 after an months-long illness. His death certificate lists stomach infection as his cause of death, but the family suspects that Peter’s heavy daily drinking may have caused his death and that he may have had an alcohol-related liver problem.

Peter’s habit of spending almost all of his earnings on alcohol was a significant problem for the rest of Fredy’s family. To help his family, Fredy began doing brickwork five days per week. Fredy gave the money he earned to his mother to buy things for the family, like food and clothing. He also worked in his family’s corn field one day per week to help his family.

Based on abuse, abandonment, and/or neglect by his father, Fredy is eligible for SIJS. 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 Fredy will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.  

Before Fredy left Guatemala, he witnessed what he believed was a robbery in progress. Fredy fears returning to Guatemala because of what he witnessed and because there are robbers and kidnappers there generally and because he had another encounter involving a stranger who followed him. A pro bono attorney will want to explore these issues further to determine whether Fredy may be eligible for asylum in addition to SIJS.

·       Timeline: Fredy 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: Montgomery County, MD (not detained)

·       Language: Spanish, preferred language - will require a fluent Spanish-speaking pro bono team member or a translator. Fredy also speaks Mam.   

 

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