SIJS (VA): YOUNG BOY WHO WAS ABANDONED BY FATHER AND SEPARATED FROM MOTHER AT THE BORDER WANTS TO STAY IN U.S. WITH HIS UNCLE AND UNCLE'S PARTNER (David)

David* is a 13-year-old boy from El Salvador. David and his family were abandoned by his father when David was only 5 years old. Without the financial support of David’s father, his mother was left with the burden of supporting the family. David’s family was threatened by gang members multiple times while he was living in El Salvador. After the final incident with the gang members David and his mother left their home and traveled to the U.S.-Mexico Border. At the border David was separated from his mother, and his mother was not allowed to enter the U.S. David currently resides with his uncle and his uncle’s partner in Virginia and is enrolled in the 7th grade. David hopes to continue his education and to continue to be able to reside in the U.S. as he enjoys living with his uncle and his uncle’s partner. If David were to move back to El Salvador it is very likely he would face threats from gang members. Due to his father’s abandonment, David is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). David may also be eligible for asylum, and a pro bono attorney should explore that as another defense against his deportation.  

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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David* is a 13-year-old boy from El Salvador. David and his family were abandoned by David’s father when David was 5 years old. Since David’s father left there has been no contact between him and David. David’s father also has another family and it is most likely that David’s father is living with that family in El Salvador.  

David’s father has never sent David’s family money or gifts, thus leaving David’s mother to provide for David and his sister and the rest of the family. In 2021, gang members came to David’s home and threatened the family. David does not know what was said as his mother did not tell him because she did not want to scare David. His mother did file a police report, but the police were unwilling to help. After the first incident, the gang members showed up twice more. Each time David was not present when they arrived, so he does not know what they said. During the last incident the gang members attempted to enter the home and were scared off by the police. It was after this final incident that David and his mother left their home to come to the U.S. It is unknown if the gang members have continued to threaten any family members who still reside in El Salvador.  

When David and his mother arrived at the border, they were separated. David’s mother was not able to enter and is still in Mexico even after showing the officials a copy of the police report she had filed. David currently lives with his uncle and his uncle’s partner in Virginia and is enrolled in the 7th grade. David hopes to continue living in the U.S with his uncle and his uncle’s partner as he enjoys living with them and he hopes to continue his education. Because the gang in El Salvador threated his family, David may also be eligible for asylum. A pro bono attorney should further explore his asylum eligibility. 

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

 

  • Timeline: David 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 8-10 months). 

  • Location: Arlington County, VA(not detained) 

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