Javier’s father left before Javier was born, even though he knew he had a son on the way. His father returned for a few months when Javier was 3 but then left again and has never seen or spoken to Javier since. As a single mom, Javier’s mother, Miriam, struggled to provide for and protect her son. In 2011, members of a gang robbed Miriam and threatened to kill her if she reported it. To escape from the gang, she made the heart-breaking decision to leave her son in the care of her aging parents and flee to the United States.
When he was only nine years old, Javier made the dangerous journey from his home country to the United States to reunite with his Mother, because his grandparents were no longer able to support him. When he arrived in the U.S., Javier was placed in a residential shelter until his mother proved that she could provide a safe home for him.
Miriam and Javier came to RILA looking for some way to regularize their immigration status so that they could build a secure life together in the U.S. RILA listened to Javier’s story and saw that he might be eligible for special protections under U.S. immigration law for children that have been abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents, called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS allows eligible immigrant children to obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, also known as acquiring a Green Card.
In December 2018, the day before Javier’s fourteenth birthday, two members of RILA’s legal team accompanied Javier and Miriam to Court. A RILA attorney stood with Javier and Miriam before the judge, answering the judge’s questions and advocating on Javier’s behalf. The judge signed the necessary order that is the first step in Javier obtaining SIJS.
This was a life-changing moment for Javier! All at once, he was given the opportunity to safely and securely build a life in the United States. Javier will likely wait a few years for his case to be finalized, and RILA will continue to support him and Miriam as they go through this process.
While Javier and Miriam wait, they are able to live in the United States, safe from the fear and violence that was endemic to their daily lives in their home country. Javier and Miriam have both overcome what seemed like insurmountable obstacles, and are brave, strong, and resilient. Javier wants to be an attorney, and we are confident that Javier has the determination to accomplish this dream!
Javier has never known his father, an all-too-common injustice that can leave deep scars on a child’s heart. However, through RILA’s work, we hope and pray that Javier will know extravagant love and grace of God, and that both Javier and Miriam would know that they are not alone in their journeys. RILA is so honored to walk alongside families like Javier and Miriam.