Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) in cases involving unaccompanied alien children and illegal border crossing

posted Mar 14, 2014, 9:19 PM by Matthew Yao   [ updated Mar 14, 2014, 9:26 PM ]
Every day, children are risking their lives crossing the border illegally.  Most of the time, these children are unaccompanied and therefore designated unaccompanied alien children (UAC).  After being caught by immigration, they are placed in shelters and subject to removal proceedings.  If the child is fortunate enough to have a relative in the U.S. who is willing to sponsor them, the child is released to that relative pending the removal proceedings.

For many of these children, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is the only basis for them to stay in the United States.  In order to be eligible for SIJS, the juvenile court having jurisdiction over the child must make certain findings.  The requirements for SIJS can be found by clicking the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) link on the left.

The main factor that needs to be proven is that the child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned by his or her parents.  But in many of these cases, the parents haven't beaten or otherwise abused the child.  So how can these children qualify for SIJS?

What is often overlooked in these cases is that the child has been neglected by the parents.  More specifically, the parents have left the child inadequately supervised.  The Virginia Department of Social Services Child and Family Services Manual defines inadequate supervision as the child being "left in the care of an inadequate caretaker or in a situation requiring judgment or actions greater than the child's level of maturity, physical condition, and/or mental abilities would reasonably dictate."  This results in "placing the child in jeopardy of sexual or other exploitation [or] physical injury..."

A child crossing the border illegally is a child that is inadequately supervised.  Even though the children are often accompanied by coyote smugglers, the coyotes are not adequate caretakers and will often leave the children they are accompanying.  On the journey to the U.S., the child is exposed to a multitude of dangerous situations, such as walking in the desert for days without much food or water.  In the case of a young girl, there is an extremely high risk of being sexually abused.    Parents that allow their children to embark on such a dangerous journey are neglecting their children.

The attorneys at Yao Law Firm, P.C. are very experienced in advocating for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.  Please contact us today so that we can help with your SIJS case.