Derick* is a 9-year-old boy from El Salvador. Derick was abandoned by his father when he was just 3 years old. His father has never provided him with financial support in the last 6 years, and Derick has had no contact with his father during this time period. Because Derick’s father was the sole breadwinner of the family, Derick’s mother was unable to afford to send Derick to school after his father left. During their time living in El Salvador, Derick’s mother became the victim of a local gang member who would stalk, harass, and sexually assault her. Because reporting a gang member to the police can result in severe consequences, including the murder of one’s family, Derick's mother fled to the U.S. with Derick. Derick now lives with his mother in Maryland and is enrolled in school. Due to his father’s abandonment, Derick is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Derick may also be eligible for asylum, and a pro bono attorney should explore that as another form of relief from deportation. 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.      


Derick* is a 9-year-old boy from El Salvador. Derick was abandoned by his father when he was just 3 years old. He fled with his mother to the U.S. after a member of a local gang repeatedly harassed Derick and sexually assaulted his mother. In at least one instance, the gang member threatened to hang Derick and his mother in the river next to their home. Derick remembers the gang member directly threatening him. Although Derick tried to protect his mother from the gang member, he was too young to do anything. His mother has not told him about the incidents of sexual assault.

After Derick's father abandoned the family, his mother became the sole breadwinner and raised Derick by herself. Derick’s father has not communicated with Derick and has provided no assistance to the family since leaving. During their journey to the U.S., Derick and his mother were separated from each other at the border. Derick was released to a family friend in the U.S. while his mother was stuck in Mexico. His mother has since joined Derick in Maryland and is his primary caretaker.  He needs a pro bono attorney to help him stay in the U.S. so he can continue his education in the Fall and stay with his mother, as there is no one to care for him in El Salvador.

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

Based on the threats to Derick’s life, he may also be eligible for asylum, and an attorney  representing him will want to explore that as another possible form of relief from deportation.

  • Timeline: Derick 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: Prince George 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 

 *Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy