SIJS (MD): HONDURAN TEEN WHO SUPPORTS HIS ELDERLY FATHER WANTS TO REMAIN IN MARYLAND (Alfonso)

Alfonso* is a 17-year-old boy from Honduras. Alfonso's mother died when he was an infant, and his father is elderly and ill and can no longer provide care for him. In fact, for several years, Alfonso has taken on the caregiving role to help his father. Alfonso and his father are extremely close, but Alfonso made the difficult decision to come to the U.S. to better support himself and his father. He completed 12th grade and worked as a mechanic and is eager to build a productive life here. Alfonso is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and needs an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS application and his immigration proceedings. Also, because a group of people wanted Alfonso to sell drugs and threatened him when he refused, Alfonso is possibly eligible for asylum; a pro bono attorney should explore that possibility further.

 

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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Alfonso* is a 17-year-old boy from Honduras. His mother died of cancer when he was only one month old. He grew up with his father, Juan*, who is now almost 80 years old and is ill with asthma. Juan grew fruits and vegetables and always worked, but Juan and Alfonso always faced economic problems and could not afford everything they needed. Because of his advanced age and ill health, Juan can no longer work. The family’s economic situation has worsened in recent years due to Juan's inability to support them, and Juan has no other way to make money.

 

Before he came to the U.S., Alfonso had taken on a caregiving role for his father. Since he was young, he did most of the housework because it was difficult for Juan to complete those tasks. More recently, Alfonso has cooked for the two of them and provides his dad with medicine. 

 

After Alfonso completed 12th grade in Honduras, he began working as a mechanic to support himself and his father. Alfonso believes he and his father would not have had enough to eat if Alfonso had not supported them. As Juan's health situation continued to deteriorate, Alfonso decided he should come to the U.S. to help out help out more significantly. 

 

Alfonso and his father share a close relationship, and Alfonso is extremely worried about his wellbeing. A pro bono attorney representing Alfonso will need to be sensitive to this issue, because Alfonso is quite sad about leaving him.

 

Because Alfonso was neglected under Maryland law (see In re Dany G, 223 Md. App. 707 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2015)), Alfonso is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which 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 the federal immigration agency. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents Alfonso will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.  

 

Additionally, Alfonso had interactions with a group of people who wanted him to sell drugs. He refused, and they threatened him. Alfonso fears returning to Honduras because he thinks these people will continue to try to recruit him. It is unclear whether these people are gang members. Alfonso is reluctant to discuss this matter, perhaps out of concern for his father's wellbeing, but these facts may also give rise to asylum eligibility, and a pro bono attorney will want to explore this possibility as an additional defense against his deportation.

 

  • Timeline: Alfonso does not have any hearings scheduled currently. State court custody hearings for SIJS ideally to occur within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 8 to 10 months).
  • Location: Prince George's 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 Jennifer Grishkin, Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Coordination, at jennifer@caircoalition.org

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy