SIJS: Young Girl Abandoned By Both Her Parents Escaped Stalker in Honduras and Wants To Remain Here with her Aunt

Selena* is a 12-year-old girl from Honduras who was abandoned by both her parents when she was an infant. She lived with her maternal grandparents until a man in her neighborhood targeted her to be “his woman,” Selena is currently living with her maternal aunt in Virginia and wants to remain with her aunt here where she is safe. She is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) based on her parents’ abandonment of her.

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.  

******

Selena is 12 years old and from Honduras. Her father left her when she was 2 months old, and her mother left a month later. Selena has never met or had a relationship with her father, and he has never supported her financially. Selena and her mother used to speak on the phone twice a year, but her mother stopped calling a couple years ago, and Selena has had no contact with her since then. Selena’s mother may have provided financial support at some point, but Selena does not know if she continues to do so. Selena lived with her maternal grandparents in Honduras after her parents abandoned her.

While Selena was living in Honduras, a man in her neighborhood targeted her to be “his woman.” The man harassed her, threatened to kidnap her, and assaulted her on one occasion. Selena told her grandparents, and she believes that they reported the assault to the police. However, Selena does not know whether the police report resulted in any investigation or action. Selena fears returning to Honduras because of this man.

 

Selena is eligible for SIJS due to abandonment by both of her parents. 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.

In order to assist Selena, 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.  

Selena speaks Spanish and lives with her mother’s sister in Springfield, Virginia. Selena wants to remain with her, and Selena’s aunt is willing to seek custody and provide for her care.

 

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

 

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy.