Resources on Children's Issues

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CLINIC, together with 10 other nonprofit organizations that serve immigrant children, filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit in defense of critical protections for minors detained by the federal government pending their immigration proceedings.

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In light of shifting and non-transparent agency policies and practices in adjudicating Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) cases, CLINIC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May of 2018 seeking records concerning USCIS procedures for adjudicating SIJS petitions (Form I-360) and SIJS-based adjustment of status applications. When USCIS failed to respond to the FOIA request after more than a year, CLINIC, represented by Dorsey & Whitney LLP, brought a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, CLINIC v. USCIS, 8:19-cv-01511 (D. Md.

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An immigration judge may issue an in absentia removal order if the Department of Homeland Security establishes by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence that the respondent had written notice of the hearing and is removable as charged on the Notice to Appear. There are many reasons why a respondent may fail to appear at a removal hearing, including lack of notice of the hearing, sickness, a breakdown in transportation, limited or no English knowledge, or because the respondent is a child without the help of a responsible adult who can assist them in getting to the hearing.

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CLINIC joined more than 100 organizations in asking the Department of Health and Human Services to stop sharing information about juvenile immigrants’ sponsors with the Department of Homeland Security. The details are being used to deport sponsors, which the letter says violates the law and causes families to be too frightened to step forward to reconnect with their children.

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On October 16, 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a precedent decision holding that an immigration judge (IJ) has initial jurisdiction over an asylum application filed by a respondent previously determined to be an “unaccompanied alien child” who turns 18 before filing the asylum application, in Matter of M-A-C-O-, 27 I&N Dec. 477 (BIA 2018).

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CLINIC opposes the NPRM which would eviscerate the protections currently in place under the Flores Settlement Agreement.

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On December 20, 2017, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issued Operating Polices and Procedures Memorandum (OPPM) 17-03: Guidelines for Immigration Court Cases Involving Juveniles, Including Unaccompanied Alien Children. This OPPM rescinds and replaces OPPM 07-01, Guidelines for Immigration Court Cases Involving Unaccompanied Alien Children, which had been in effect since May 22, 2007.

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In September 2017, an Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) memorandum was circulated on various listservs. The memo is dated September 19, 2017 and is addressed to James R. McHenry III, the acting director of EOIR, from Jean King, General Counsel.

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Every year, the Department of Homeland Security stops thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children attempting to enter the United States through its southern border. The majority of these children come from the area of Central America known as the Northern Triangle, comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The most common reason for their journey to the United States is to escape from violence, as these countries consistently rank among the world’s most violent.

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This practice advisory is intended to educate advocates on important unaccompanied child protections and assist them with starting-point strategies for combating Department of Homeland Security efforts to strip vulnerable children of protections afforded to them as unaccompanied children.

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CLINIC has asked SIJ experts in MD and NY to draft affidavits describing in detail their respective state laws expanding state “juvenile” court jurisdiction from 18 to the age of 20. Advocates should use these affidavits in a creative manner including submission to USCIS in response to Requests for Further Evidence (RFE) or to Immigration Judge to request release from custody. As SIJ-eligible unaccompanied minors face hurdles to release following the February 21, 2017 DHS Border Security Memo, advocates should also consider using these affidavits for those under 18 years of age.

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On October 9, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 900 into law, and in the process expanded eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status findings to many immigrant youth in the state.

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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 appl