SIJS: Salvadoran Boy Neglected By His Father Wants to Stay in the U.S. with His Mother

Lonny* is a 10-year-old boy from El Salvador who is living with his mother in Maryland. Lonny’s father migrated to the U.S. when Lonny was a baby and did not keep in touch or provide for Lonny in El Salvador. Lonny’s father has neglected him, and he did not even call or visit while Lonny was held in government custody nearby awaiting reunification with his mother. Lonny is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) based on his father’s neglect, and this status would allow Lonny to remain in the U.S. with his mother.


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.  


Lonny* is a 10-year-old boy from El Salvador. His father migrated to the U.S. when Lonny was a baby and did not keep in touch or provide for Lonny and family while they remained in El Salvador. When Lonny was 3 years old, his mother migrated to the U.S. to earn money to support the family, leaving Lonny with his maternal grandparents, aunt, and uncle. Lonny’s mother kept in touch with Lonny and provided for him throughout his life, and he is happy to have reunified with her.


In contrast, Lonny’s father is not involved in Lonny's life. Moreover, even though he lives nearby in Maryland, he did not call or visit while Lonny was in government custody waiting to reunify with his mother. Lonny and his mother have had no recent contact with Lonny’s father.


Lonny is eligible for SIJS due to neglect by his father. 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.


In order to assist Lonny, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order establishing that he meets the requirements for SIJS. In this case, because Lonny’s father lives nearby in Maryland, it is possible that he may contest these proceedings. After obtaining the required order, the pro bono team will hand the case off to CAIR Coalition for the lengthy immigration portion of the SIJS process. CAIR Coalition will submit an SIJS application package with USCIS, appear with the child at a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interview, if required, and handle the adjustment of status paperwork.

Lonny speaks Spanish and lives with his mother in Silver Spring, Maryland.


For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at or 202-866-9287.


*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.