SIJS: Salvadoran Child Who Escaped an Abusive, Dangerous Father Wants To Live with her Mother in Maryland

Marisol* is a child from El Salvador. When she was 2 years old, her father abandoned Marisol and her mother. She came to the United States because she wanted to live with her mother, and currently lives with her in Maryland. She is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) based on her father’s abandonment.


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.  


Marisol* is a nine-year old girl from El Salvador. She lived with both of her parents until the age of two, when her father abandoned her and her mother because Marisol’s mother had found out that the father had been sexually abusing her younger sister (Marisol’s aunt). When Marisol still lived with her father, he would frequently scream at her and had hit her with a phone cable. Because Marisol and her mother were afraid of her father, they moved to a different part of El Salvador. This was not enough, however, to keep Marisol’s father from contacting and threatening her mother. He would often call Marisol’s mother and tell her that he would hurt her and take Marisol away from her if she did not get back together with him.


Because of these threats, Marisol’s mother was forced to flee the country in 2016, and could not bring Marisol with her. After her mother fled from El Salvador out of fear of her father, Marisol lived with her maternal grandparents and aunt. It soon became clear that these fears were well founded, as Marisol’s father was arrested and imprisoned for the murder of four people in El Salvador. Marisol’s father has never tried to contact or support her, even when he was not in jail, but has continued to threaten her mother through private phone calls from jail.


Marisol came to the United States in August of this year in order to be with her mother.


Marisol is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by her 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 Marisol, a pro bono team will appear in state family court to obtain an order that the child meets the requirements for SIJS; prepare and submit an SIJS application package with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; appear with the child at a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interview, if required; and handle the adjustment of status paperwork. There may also be a brief scheduling hearing with an Immigration Judge.  


Marisol speaks Spanish and is living in 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.