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SIJS (DC): Boy who had to work because his father abandoned him wants to stay with his mother in DC.

*Lucas – Guatemala

Lucas* is 15 years old and from Guatemala. Lucas lived with both his parents until his father left the family when Lucas was about 7 years old.  After leaving the family, his father has not financially contributed, nor has he made any effort to keep in contact with Lucas. Neither Lucas nor his mother know where his father is or how to contact him.

In Guatemala, Lucas decided to start working full time after the 6th grade to account for the loss of his father’s support. He wanted to continue going to school but if he did not work his family would not have enough money to buy food and other necessities. Now in the United States and living with his mother in DC, Lucas is continuing his education and plans on graduating.

As a result of his father’s abandonment, Lucas is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).

SIJS is available to unaccompanied immigrant children who cannot be reunified with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. 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 Jairo will need to be barred in DC or obtain court permission to appear pro hac vice.

All Amica Center matters placed with a pro bono team are robustly mentored by an Amica Center 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.

Special Consideration

This will be a 3rd party custody case, which has slightly distinct requirements, but the mentor will be able to expertly guide the attorney through this process.

Additional Information

  • Location

    Washington DC—not detained, living with his mother

  • Language

    Spanish—will require a fluent Spanish-speaking pro bono team member or an external interpreter/translator

Please contact our Managing Attorney for Pro Bono Coordination, Jennifer Grishkin, at or (202) 866-9287 if you are interested in taking this case.

*Pseudonyms are used to protect privacy. 

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