one parent, but not the other, despite the
fact that the federal statute contemplates
allowing “one-parent SIJ.”7 I have never
had to contend with a “reluctant” judge in
any of my SIJ cases in Vermont—a trend I
hope continues alongside an upward trend
in immigrants who find a way to make Vermont their new home.
Erin Jacobsen, Esq. is a supervising attorney and assistant professor at Vermont
Law School’s South Royalton Legal Clinic.
Her primary area of focus is immigration
law, but she also handles juvenile cases
and runs the Clinic’s Prison Project, where
she consults with incarcerated women on a
wide range of family law matters.
Patrick Leahy, “U.S. courts should stop picking
on immigrant kids” (CNN Online, May 9, 2016).
Meghan Johnson and Kele Stewart , “Unequal
Access to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status:
State Court Adjudication of One-Parent Cases”
(American Bar Association, July 2014).
The Children’s Corner
child’s best interest to be returned to her/
his country of origin. To this end, Roberto should submit supporting documentation that substantiates the requested special findings, such as affidavits, medical records, and reports and articles about his
Once the child obtains the requisite special findings (and hopefully a detailed order from the court), she/he can petition USCIS for Special Immigrant Juvenile status.
The child can then apply for her/his “green
card,” or Lawful Permanent Residency, and
In a recent CNN op-ed, Senator Leahy
implored courts to “stop picking on immigrant kids.”6 He was referring to U.S. immigration courts, after a federal immigration judge argued that children in removal
proceedings don’t need lawyers, because
‘even three-year-olds’ can understand immigration law and effectively defend themselves against Department of Homeland
Security trial attorneys. Id. But some state
courts are also to blame for making a difficult legal process even harder for vulnerable immigrant children. This is especially true where reunification is possible with
“Children in U.S. Immigrant Families (By Age
Group and State, 1990 versus 2014),” Migration
Policy Institute, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/
Id. In 1990, 4.4% of children in Vermont were
in immigrant families. In 2014, it was 6.1%.
Both cases are composites of several different real-life cases. All identifying information has
been completely altered.
8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(27)(J); INA §101(a)(27)(j)
8 CFR 204.11
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • SUMMER 2016