Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Scharf urges rational statutory construction to ease immigration plight of child victims of abuse, neglect

My colleague Irene Scharf published further research into easing immigration hardships for undocumented youth who have been victimized by abuse, abandonment, or neglect.  She explains (footnotes omitted):

In 1990, aiming to ease the difficult situation for undocumented child immigrants who were dependent on juvenile courts for their protection, Congress enacted the Special Immigrant Juvenile provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, located at 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J) (the provision). In 2008, in an effort to further ease the plight of these young people, it amended the provision to relieve the proof requirement from proving abuse, abandonment, or neglect by both parents to that of one or both parents. Unfortunately, the provision maintains its “two-tier” citizenship system because one of its subsections denies Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ) who naturalize the same rights as other citizens possess to petition for their parents to immigrate [8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J)(iii)(II)]. In Second Class Citizenship? The Plight of Special Immigrant Juveniles [40 Cardozo L. Rev. 579 (2019)], I concluded that this limitation violates Due Process by creating this two-tier citizenship system. To address this inequity, courts should employ the doctrine of “rational legislating” to interpret this provision in a way that would place SIJs on an equal footing with other citizens. This would more accurately reflect the intent Congress had when it amended the provision in 2008, and permit naturalized SIJs to reunify with their parents.

Professor Scharf in the article further frames the problem in describing its impact on the lives of young people from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, relating experiences amalgamated from real clients of the immigration law clinic she has supervised for nearly two decades.

The article is Robbing Special Immigrant Juveniles of Their Rights as U.S. Citizens: The Legislative Error in the 2008 TVPRA Amendments, 30 Berkeley La Raza L.J. 41 (2020).

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