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Like most of us these days, we are all faced with how to respond in a pastoral way to the humanitarian challenges in front of us with unaccompanied minors coming into our country. I recently visited with a number of these young people with some of our staff members of the Diocesan Pastoral Center here in Orange.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) allows undocumented minors who have suffered abandonment, neglect, or abuse by a parent to become lawful permanent residents.  To qualify, the child must have an order from a juvenile court demonstrating that he or she is dependent on the state and cannot be safely reunited with parents.  Federal law allows children under the age of 21 to qualify, but many potential beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and 21 are left out.  Their state courts only have jurisdiction over children younger than 18, so they cannot obtain the necessary court order to app

I was born in Managua, Nicaragua, the second of 5 children. I was about 15 months old when I had my first contact with the United States of America. This happened through my father returning home after spending a year at the University of Florida, Gainsville in a graduate course of Sanitary Engineering.

In a recent article on how funding President Obama seeks to stem the increase of migrants would be spent, CLINIC’s Director of Advocacy Allison Posner expresses concern about legal representation for the unaccompanied children who would face immigration court alone.

 

Published in the Los Angeles Times. July 10, 2014

CLINIC Executive Director Jeanne Atkinson discusses the large number of children seeking refuge in the United States alone, the push factors in their home countries, and their legal options in the United States on the radio program Between the Lines.

 

Radio Interview on Between the Lines, July 9, 2014

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