The Equal Protection Doctrine in the Age of Trump: The Example of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

41 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2018 Last revised: 27 Feb 2019

Date Written: February 26, 2018


The Equal Protection Doctrine — the right of equals to equality — has taken on renewed relevance since the 2016 federal election cycle. The values of equality and due process, expressed in the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, are currently under siege. Laws and institutions central to the core functions of the federal government have been dismantled, repealed or ignored. In this climate, legislative and executive regulatory solutions are not viable, and the traditional means to remedy inequities and discrimination may no longer work. The only way to protect the long-held democratic value of equality is to challenge the actions that offend it in court.

In the federal immigration law context, the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) statute, a law intended to provide a pathway for undocumented immigrant children to obtain a legal residency in the United States, is offered as a current example of equal protection concerns: the SIJS legal framework, as applied, treats these children unequally. This article is the first to propose that this legal framework violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection; and it presents the novel and unique argument that in the age of Trump, the time is ripe for an equal protection legal challenge to the SIJS law. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.

Keywords: SIJS, Equal Protection, Fifth Amendment, Trump, Unaccompanied Children

Suggested Citation

Delfino, Rebecca, The Equal Protection Doctrine in the Age of Trump: The Example of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children (February 26, 2018). 84 Brook. L. Rev. 73 (2018), Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-18, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Delfino (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States

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