Attorney Deborah Gonzalez successfully obtains finding of fact predicate order
Attorney Deborah Gonzalez successfully obtains finding of fact predicate order in the Providence Family court on behalf of her minor client.
Every day minor children from Central and South America cross our borders undocumented and alone. Many children are under the age 16 and travel by themselves with only a backpack on their backs with very minimal food to survive. They travel by foot through the desserts of Texas and Arizona in the hopes for a better life in the United States, abandoned by their parents back in their home country. These children are desperate for a better life, so they leave their countries alone, without any supervision from their parents and make month long trips into the United States.
No child should have to endure some of the suffering these children endure for the sake of education and a better life. Fortunately, our Congress in 1990 enacted the classification of Special Immigrant Juvenile and in 2008 with the passage of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, Congress made eligibility for this status easier by doing away with strict requirements and allowing children in the care of good hearted family members or citizens to help these children apply for Special Juvenile Immigrant status.
Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status is an immigrant status for foreign born children who are present in the United States and have been abandoned, abused or neglected by one or both parents.
In order to qualify for SIJ status, a court with proper jurisdiction over the minor child in the state in which the minor child resides must issue an order making specific findings that the child is a minor; that he/she has been abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents; that reunification with the parent(s) is not in the best interest of the child; and that it’s in the best interest of the child to remain in the United States.
In Rhode Island, the only court that has jurisdiction over these petitions is the Rhode Island Family Court. The Court retains jurisdiction until the child turns 18 years of age. This means that any child over 18 is no longer eligible for SIJ status in Rhode Island.
Once the predicate order is obtained the minor child can file for Special Immigrant Juvenile status with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service, and subsequently adjust their status to lawful permanent resident, giving these children an opportunity to continue with their studies and eventually find employment and obtain driver’s licenses. This process allows these children to live a normal and productive life.
There are some disadvantages to the status. Children who have gained lawful permanent residence through SIJ are never allowed to petition for their parents and they can only petition for their siblings once they have obtained U.S. Citizenship.
However, on the plus side, like anyone else who has permanent residence for five years, SIJ children can apply for citizenship after five years of permanent residence.
If you know of a child, or if you are a child who may qualify for SIJ status, contact Attorney Deborah Gonzalez at Gonzalez Law Offices and make an appointment.
Written by: Roberto Gonzalez