SIJS: Teen Girl, Abandoned by Father, Wants to Remain with Mother in the U.S.

Ximena* is a 13-year-old girl from Honduras who is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”). Her father abandoned her when she was born, has never supported her, and rejected Ximena’s efforts to form a relationship with him. Ximena fled the violent conditions in Honduras that have worsened in recent years. She wishes to stay in the United States with her mother where she is safe and can go to school.

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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Ximena grew up in Honduras, where she lived with her grandmother since infancy after her mother left to escape abuse from Ximena’s father and to support her family from the United States. Ximena’s mother sent money to support her and called often to make sure she was okay. Although Ximena asked to meet her father, and family members tried to arrange it, her father never visited her and has never had a conversation with her. Ximena left Honduras due to the increasing violence against young people there; she feared that people in her community were preparing to harm her. Now that Ximena is in the United States, she is living with her mother and doing well. She wants to stay with her mother.

Ximena is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by her father. SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children 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 Ximena, 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.

Ximena speaks Spanish and is living in Centreville, Virginia. 

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

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.