Every year, thousands of unaccompanied immigrant juveniles enter the United States, either to reunite with family or on their own. In 2008 alone, more than 8000 unaccompanied minors were taken into custody by immigration.
Because the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services directs the care of unaccompanied immigrant youth, many government agencies are involved in these cases. DHS, however, still decides whether the child is eligible to receive immigration benefits within the United States.
Congress created Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) to protect unaccompanied immigrant children within the United States who have suffered parental abuse, neglect or abandonment. These children frequently have survived human trafficking , forced labor, or abuses in the United States or their home countries.
The child must demonstrate that return to the home country is not in the child’s best interest. Minors must also be under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court in the United States. Because each state’s juvenile court process is different, it is critical that these children have access to an attorney who can represent them throughout the process.
SIJS is an important tool to protect immigrant children in the United States. Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC guides families through the immigration process for juveniles, so that children and their families can find stability and protection in this country.