February 10, 2023

In December 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted permanent residency to Willkie clients Mr. D and Mr. O. Mr. D and Mr. O are brothers, ages 18 and 12, who fled Honduras for the United States with their mother and sister in 2014 after witnessing gang violence.  

When Mr. D was 9 years old and Mr. O was 4 years old, they heard gun shots outside their house. Their mother had seen three gang members shoot into a car, killing two people. That night, the gang members came to Mr. D and Mr. O’s house and threatened to kill their mother and her children if she told anyone what she had witnessed. Both Mr. D and Mr. O’s fathers abandoned them when they were babies and their mother was their only parent. 

After arriving in the United States, the brothers, together with their mother and baby sister, sought assistance with their asylum applications from Human Rights First, which referred the case to Willkie.

In 2016, we filed an application for asylum for Mr. D and Mr. O’s mother and included Mr. D and Mr. O as derivative applicants based on their fear of gang violence. In August 2018, after a judge decided that the mother was likely eligible only for withholding of removal, we filed separate asylum applications for Mr. D and Mr. O in New York Immigration Court.  

While the asylum applications were pending, we also filed for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which requires that unification with one or both parents is impossible due to neglect or abandonment. In 2017, we filed guardianship petitions with the Brooklyn Family Court to obtain guardianship orders based on Mr. D and Mr. O’s abandonment by their fathers. We then submitted SIJS applications to USCIS in August 2017. The SIJS applications were approved in January 2019. In 2021, Willkie filed a joint motion to terminate Mr. D and Mr. O’s asylum cases based on their SIJS status, and on November 19, 2021, the Immigration Court issued an order terminating the proceedings.    

On February 12, 2022, we submitted I-485 applications to adjust status to lawful permanent resident based on the approved SIJS applications. Mr. D and Mr. O were granted permanent residency on December 1 and December 16, 2022, respectively. 

We are also representing Mr. D and Mr. O’s mother and sister, who will require separate relief. We are pursuing both an application for withholding of removal and a U-Visa for the mother, and SIJS for the sister. 

The Willkie team included senior counsel Richard Mancino and associates Samantha Prince and Kaydene Grinnell and law clerk Kevin Lopez.