With the recent surge of migration of undocumented children and youth into the United States – and several hundred sent to Washington State – there is an increasing demand for attorneys to assist children and youth in obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). SIJS is an immigration visa status available to certain immigrant children and youth who are the subject of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or similar maltreatment by either one or both of their parents.
Columbia Legal Services (CLS) has developed a useful resource, Quick Guide: SIJS & Washington State, to help attorneys assist young immigrants so they remain in the U.S. and avoid abuse, neglect, or abandonment as a result of deportation. The Quick Guide is designed to help attorneys obtain certain state court findings which are necessary before a child or youth can petition for SIJS. Once SIJS status is obtained, a youth becomes immediately eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence.
“For many immigrant youth, SIJS is the only path available for legal status and without it a youth will most likely be removed from the U.S. and face possible abuse,” said Candelaria Murillo, CLS Attorney with the Children and Youth project. “Our guide aims to augment the legal support available and encourage pro bono attorneys to step forward and help immigrant youth avoid deportation.”
“SIJS is a form of immigration protection that children and youth cannot realistically access without legal representation,” said Jorge Barón, Executive Director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “We are grateful that Columbia Legal Services has developed this resource to help ensure that more children and youth are able to obtain the protections to which they are entitled under our immigration laws.”
The Quick Guide includes a practical Frequently Asked Questions, sample language for motions, and several case examples, such as one involving Mario, who was released to his uncle in Washington State after his parents said they could not keep him safe from gang violence at home in Guatemala.