SIJS: Salvadoran Sisters Want to Stay with their Mom in Maryland
Alejandra* and Yasmina* are 7- and 10-year-old sisters from El Salvador who are currently living in Frederick County, MD with their mother. Their fathers abandoned them and their mother after they were born and they have had no contact with their fathers since then. Based on their fathers’ abandonment, they are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Alejandra and Yasmina seek an attorney to represent them in all aspects of their SIJS proceedings.
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Alejandra and Yasmina are 7 and 10-year-old sisters from El Salvador who are currently living in Frederick County, MD with their mother. Their fathers abandoned them and their mother after they were born and they have had no contact with their fathers since then. While in El Salvador, the siblings lived with their grandparents while their mother lived in the United States working and sending money back for the household. Their mother always remained in contact with the girls while they were apart, calling them regularly.
Alejandra’s father left her mother shortly after she was born and they have had no contact with him since them. Yasmina’s father has never been involved in her life, though he did call once when their mother was pregnant with Alejandra. While it has not been confirmed, it is believed that he is now in prison in North Carolina for raping another one of his daughters.
Alejandra and Yasmina are eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by their fathers. 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 Alejandra and Yasmina will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.
Among the reasons that it would not be in the sisters' best interest to return to El Salvador is that their grandfather would hit them with his hands or a belt if they "disobeyed." It is possible that these facts, if developed, could rise to the level of persecution for the purposes of asylum.
Alejandra and Yasmina do not currently have any hearings scheduled in removal proceedings.
Timeline:No Immigration Court hearings scheduled; State court custody hearing for SIJS ideally within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 10 to 12 months).
Location: Frederick County, MD (non-detained, with mother)
For more information about this case, please contact Pro Bono Coordinating Attorney Jennifer Grishkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-866-9287.
*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy