SIJS (VA): HELP A GIRL WHO WAS ABANDONED BY HER FATHER AND THREATENED BY HER UNCLE STAY WITH HER MOTHER IN THE U.S. (Franni)

[content warning: discusses sexual abuse of a minor]  

 

Franni* is a 11-year-old girl form El Salvador. Franni was abandoned by her father when she was just 4 years old. Although Franni does not remember, her father would physically abuse her mother to the point that she had to go to a health clinic multiple times. Franni has since never received any financial or emotional support from her father. In addition, Franni began receiving death threats from her uncle after she became aware that her uncle was sexually abusing her sister. Franni’s uncle had been sexually abusing her sister since her sister was 9 years old. Her sister is now 17 and has a 1-year-old child of whom her uncle is the father. Her uncle told Franni that if she ever told anyone about the abuse, he would kill her. Franni’s mother came to the U.S. in 2014 and arranged for Franni to make the trip in 2022 so they could reunify in Virginia. Because of her father’s abandonment, Franni is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Because of the death threats from her uncle, Franni may also be eligible for asylum, and a pro bono attorney should explore that as another form of relief.  She is seeking a pro bono attorney to represent her in her immigration proceedings and all aspects of her SIJS application.  

 

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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Franni* is a 11-year-old girl from El Salvador. Franni grew up with her mother and father, until she was 4 years old and her parents split up. Franni has not seen her father since her parents split and does not remember him. Before he left the family, her father would frequently abuse Franni’s mother, forcing her into a health clinic on multiple occasions. Franni’s father was briefly imprisoned after her mother reported him to the police, but he was released 7 days later. Her father provides no emotional or financial support to Franni and has made no attempt to contact her. He still poses a threat to Franni’s mother, and Franni’s mother believes that he would harm Franni if she returned to El Salvador.  

 

When Franni was growing up, Franni’s uncle began sexually abusing her sister when her sister was just 9 years old. The sexual abuse continued for years, to the point that her uncle eventually impregnated the same sister in 2021, when she was 16 years old. Her sister now has a 1-year-old child, of which her uncle is the father. Because Franni was aware that the abuse was occurring, her uncle threatened to kill her if she ever told anybody about it.  

 

Franni’s mother came to the U.S. in 2014 and left Franni with her mother, Franni’s grandmother. Franni and her mother regularly stayed in touch and her mother would send money to Franni’s grandmother to provide for Franni. In 2022, Franni traveled to the U.S. alone and has since reunified with her mother in Virginia. Because of her father’s abandonment, Franni is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Because of the death threats from her uncle, Franni may also be eligible for asylum, and a pro bono attorney should explore that as another form of relief.  She is seeking a pro bono attorney to represent her in her immigration proceedings and all aspects of her SIJS application.  

 

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 Franni will need to be barred in Virginia or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.   

 

  • Timeline: Franni does not have any hearings scheduled currently. State court custody hearings for SIJS ideally occur within 4 to 6 months, followed by USCIS filing (approvals can take 8 to 10  months). 

  • Location: Fairfax County, VA (not detained) 

  • Language: Spanish - will require a fluent Spanish-speaking pro bono team member or a translator    

For more information about this case, please contact Jennifer Grishkin, Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Coordination, at jennifer@caircoalition.org

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy