Shook Associates Maitry Patel and Jonathan Barnard, working pro bono with KIND: Kids in Need of Defense, have obtained a favorable Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) decision for an unaccompanied minor who came to the United States from Guatemala. The decision was handed down by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. SIJS is a pathway to a green card for immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents.
Before coming to the United States, the boy dropped out of school after the sixth grade and worked hours away from his home for years in deplorable working conditions to provide additional income for his parents and younger siblings. He often went without food, health care or parental supervision, and he experienced daily threats to his life—often at both knife and gunpoint—by local gangs.
Patel and Barnard also helped the minor apply for asylum, an additional pathway to a green card for immigrants who are afraid of persecution if they return to their home country. A decision is still pending.
As that process may take several years, the attorneys,with the help of the boy’s social worker, were able to find an extended foster care placement for him until he turns 21. Shook also helped the minor obtain employment authorization so that he can legally work in the U.S. while he waits for his green card.