SIJS (MD): YOUNG HONDURAN SIBLINGS WANT TO STAY WITH MOTHER IN MARYLAND (Dani and Yael)

Dani* and Yael* are siblings from Honduras. The brother (Yael, 12 years old) and sister (Dani, 9 years old) came to the U.S. because there was nobody who was able to take care of them in Honduras. Dani and Yael’s father has neglected them and has abused their mother and at least some of their children, and he continues to fail to support Dani and Yael. Dani and Yael are living with their mother in Maryland where they hope to remain and pursue their education. Their father also currently lives in the U.S. now, although the family is unsure of his location. Due to their father’s neglect and abuse, Dani and Yael are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). They are seeking a pro bono attorney to represent them in their immigration proceedings and all aspects of their 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.     

 

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Dani* and Yael* are 9- and 12-year-old siblings from Honduras. They want to remain with their mother in Maryland where they can continue the education. While Dani and Yael were growing up in Honduras, their father frequently subjected their mother to physical and sexual abuse. He would threaten to cut her head off with a machete, point a gun at her, and on more than occasion violently tore off and burned her clothes. Although Dani and Yael say they never witnessed this abuse, they were in the same house when it occurred, and the abuse forced their mother to flee to the U.S. to escape their father. As a result, Dani and Yael lived with their older sister for several years in Honduras. Their father would not provide for them consistently, rarely spoke to them, and would spend his free time on the streets when he wasn’t working. Their older sister provided their food and meals and made sure that the kids were surviving. When Yael was in sixth grade, their father pulled him out of school and forced him to work in agriculture. Although Yael wanted to keep going to school, his father did not care.

 

The siblings’ father currently lives in the U.S., has spoken to the children a couple times, and may desire greater contact with them. The siblings’ mother remains fearful of her ex and says that although she does not believe he was abusive to Dani and Yael, he was abusive to their older children. Yael said that his father would hit him occasionally but did not injure him.

 

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

 

  • Timeline: Dani and Yael do 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 10 to 12 months).   

 

  • Location: Montgomery County, MD (not detained)    

 

  • Language: Spanish -will need a 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