Unaccompanied Minors at the U.S.-Mexico Border: The Shifting Sands of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
38 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 10, 2018
The surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the United States bespeaks the conditions that continue to tear at the fabric of families in Central America. Special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), a classification enacted by Congress in 1990 to provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence for undocumented minors abandoned or neglected by their parents, is a source of hope for many of these young migrants. In a political climate in which anti-immigration sentiment is increasing, advocates for unaccompanied minors are detecting new sources of judicial and administrative resistance to SIJS. This article maps this shifting legal terrain and argues that it is at odds with Congress’s intent that SIJS be used to remove children from harm’s way, no matter their citizenship status.
Keywords: immigration, special immigrant juvenile, unaccompanied minor, undocumented persons, deportation, lawful permanent residence, immigration court, family court, administrative law, Department of Homeland Security, abuse and neglect, best interests of the child, child custody, guardianship
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