SIJS: Six-Year-Old Honduran Child Whose Mother Was Murdered Wants To Remain in Maryland with his Aunt

Rafael* is a six-year-old child from Honduras who has never known his father, as his mother and father were separated well before his birth. His mother was murdered in 2018, and he fled Honduras soon after. He is now living with his maternal aunt in Maryland. Based on his father’s neglect and abandonment of him, Rafael is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a statutory form of relief that combines both state court and federal immigration components. Rafael seeks an attorney to represent him in all aspects of his SIJS proceedings.


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.  




Rafael* is a six year old child from Honduras who has never known his father, as his mother and father were separated well before his birth. Rafael’s father has never been involved in Rafael’ life. He has made no effort to develop a relationship with Rafael, and he has not supported him financially or in any other way. After the death of his mother, Rafael came to the United States with his maternal grandmother and was separated from her at the border. His grandmother has since been deported to Honduras. After Rafael’s grandmother was deported, Rafael’s aunt reached out to his father, who told her he would send a custody agreement if she sends him money.


Rafael is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment 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. Because a state family court order is required, the attorney who represents Rafael will need to be barred in Maryland or obtain court permission to proceed pro hac vice.


In order to assist Rafael, 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 also may be one or more brief scheduling hearings (“master calendar hearings”) with an Immigration Judge. 


Rafael has a master calendar hearing scheduled for October 20, 2020 at 8:30 AM in Baltimore. 


Rafael speaks Spanish and is living with his aunt in Prince George’s County, 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