When Maria* was four years old, her father brought her to the U.S. from Central America to take her out of the neglect she experienced under her grandmother’s care. But two years after being reunited with her mother in North Carolina, her father abandoned the family. And at six years old, Maria was sexually molested and beaten by her mother’s boyfriend. After a time of frequent abuse by this man, DSS and police intervened when Maria reached out to a teacher for help. But when Maria was 12, her family moved into a new apartment complex where a local tenant threatened the lives of her six younger sisters. His threats led to Maria’s rape, an encounter that left her pregnant at 13. With no one on her side, she was taken in by a neighbor. Now 17 years old with a young child, Maria faced an uncertain future.
But with the legal assistance she now receives from LSSP, Maria and her U.S. citizen son have a chance to secure protection from being deported back to a country where she has no family. The custody appeals that have been filed through LSSP are seeking to grant her custody to the care of her neighbor. Once custody is established, LSSP staff can aid Maria in pursuing Special Immigrant Juvenile Status as a victim of abuse, abandonment and neglect. LSSP’s staff is currently seeking to help her achieve permanent lawful residency, work legally within the U.S and keep her family intact.