Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Scarlett was born in Honduras in 2013. Her family moved to the United States in 2015. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services received a referral claiming that her father, Franklin, had attacked her mother, Karen. The Department filed a Welfare and Institutions Code 300(a), (b)(1) petition. The court found true the allegations that, because of multiple instances of domestic violence, and because Franklin had hit Scarlett with a belt, Franklin placed Scarlett at risk of serious physical harm and Karen failed to protect her.Scarlett subsequently filed a request for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) findings under Code of Civil Procedure 155.1. A child is eligible for SIJ status if: the child is a dependent of a juvenile court, in the custody of a state agency by court order, or in the custody of an individual or entity appointed by the court; the child cannot reunify with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis; and it is not in the child’s best interest to return to his or her home country or the home country of her parents. The juvenile court denied the request, ruling the findings were “discretionary.” The court of appeal reversed. The lower court was required to consider the evidence submitted and Scarlett submitted unimpeached and uncontradicted evidence that required the court to enter an order with the findings Scarlett requested under section 155. View "In re Scarlett V." on Justia Law

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S.H.R. petitioned the superior court for the appointment of a guardian of his person and for judicial findings that would enable him to petition the USCIS to classify him as a special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) under federal immigration law. The superior court denied both petitions.The Court of Appeal concluded that S.H.R. had the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the facts supporting SIJ status. Because the trial court found his evidence did not support the requested findings, S.H.R. has the burden on appeal of showing that he is entitled to the SIJ findings as a matter of law. In this case, S.H.R. has failed to meet his burden by failing to prove parental abandonment or neglect and that reunification was not viable. Therefore, the court affirmed the superior court's denial of the SIJ petition. The denial of the SIJ petition rendered the guardianship petition moot, and thus the court also affirmed the denial of that petition. View "S.H.R. v. Rivas" on Justia Law

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This case relates to the consent decree incorporating the Flores Agreement, a 1997 settlement agreement between the United States and a class of all minors subject to immigration detention. The Agreement established nationwide standards for the detention, release, and treatment of minors by U.S. immigration authorities. The Agreement, by its own terms, terminates after the government's publication of final regulations implementing the Agreement. In 2019, the government issued final regulations represented as implementing, and thus terminating, the Agreement. The district court then concluded that the new regulations, on the whole, were inconsistent with the Agreement, enjoining the regulations from taking effect and denying the government's motion to terminate the Agreement.The Ninth Circuit held that the provisions of the new regulations relating to unaccompanied minors are consistent with the Agreement except to the extent that they require ORR to place an unaccompanied minor in a secure facility if the minor is otherwise a danger to self or others and to the extent they require unaccompanied minors held in secure or staff-secure placements to request a hearing, rather than providing a hearing to those minors automatically unless they refuse one.The panel also held that some of the regulations regarding initial detention and custody of both unaccompanied and accompanied minors are consistent with the Agreement and may take effect. However, the remaining new regulations relating to accompanied minors depart from the Agreement in several important ways. Therefore, the panel affirmed the district court's order enjoining those regulations. The panel further held that the district court correctly concluded that the Agreement was not terminated by the adoption of the regulations. Finally, the panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the government's motion to terminate the Agreement, as the government has not demonstrated that changed circumstances, such as an increase in family migration, justify terminating the Agreement's protections. View "Flores v. Rosen" on Justia Law

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On rehearing en banc, the Fourth Circuit reversed the judgment and remanded with instructions to grant plaintiff's motion to set aside the agency's final action denying plaintiff special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status. In this case, USCIS interpreted 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J) (i) to require a permanent custody order and thus denied plaintiff's SIJ application, dismissing his administrative appeal.The court held that the agency's rejection of plaintiff's SIJ provision -- that clause (i) requires a permanent custody order -- is entitled to no deference, defies the plain statutory language, and impermissibly intrudes into issues of state domestic relations law. Because the agency's interpretation of clause (i) was not in accordance with law, the court remanded to the agency to take another look at plaintiff's SIJ application. View "Perez v. Cuccinelli" on Justia Law

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An IJ is required to inform a petitioner subject to removal proceedings of "apparent eligibility to apply for any of the benefits enumerated in this chapter." 8 C.F.R. 1240.11(a)(2). The apparent eligibility standard of 8 C.F.R. 1240.11(a)(2) is triggered whenever the facts before the IJ raise a reasonable possibility that the petitioner may be eligible for relief. When the IJ fails to provide the required advice, the appropriate course is to grant the petition for review, reverse the BIA's dismissal of the petitioner's appeal of the IJ's failure to inform him of this relief, and remand for a new hearing.A successful Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) application plainly can lead to relief from removal, and SIJ regulations are among those in the referenced subchapter, 8 C.F.R. 1245.1(a), (e)(2)(vi)(B)(3). The en banc court granted a petition for review of the BIA's dismissal of petitioner's appeal of the IJ's denial of his application for asylum and withholding of removal. The panel held that the IJ who ordered petitioner removed erred by failing to advise him about his apparent eligibility for SIJ status. View "C.J.L.G. v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the county court erred when it concluded that the appointed guardian (Guardian) of her juvenile nephew (Juvenile) had not satisfied 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J) and therefore denied Guardian’s motion to make special factual findings that are necessary to apply for SIJ status under the statute.In denying Guardian’s request to make special findings to be used in immigration proceedings, the county court stated that Juvenile was “not dependent on this court” and that Guardian had not satisfied the dependency or custody component of section 1101(a)(27)(J). During the pendency of this appeal, the Nebraska Legislature amended Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1238(b) to clarify that courts with jurisdiction over initial child custody determinations under section 43-1238(a) also have jurisdiction and authority to make special findings of fact similar to the findings of fact contemplated by section 1101(a)(27)(J). The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that because the county court made a custody determination under section 43-1238(a), it erred when it concluded that it had not made a custody determination for purposes of section 1101(a)(27)(J)(i). View "In re Guardianship of Carlos D." on Justia Law

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Neither the Due Process Clause nor the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., creates a categorical right to court-appointed counsel at government expense for alien minors. The Ninth Circuit held that, to the extent the IJ failed to provide all the trappings of a full and fair hearing in this case, any shortcomings did not prejudice the outcome because the IJ adequately developed the record on issues that were dispositive to petitioner's claims for relief. The panel also held that the IJ was not required to advise petitioner of a separate state court process that could ultimately form the predicate for petitioner's application for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status with the IJ. Finally, the panel declined to reversed the Board's denial of petitioner's asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT claims, because substantial evidence supported the BIA's determination that petitioner was ineligible for relief. View "C.J.L.G. v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Christian, age 16, was arrested for selling cocaine base. A wardship petition was filed. Immigration officials were notified. An Immigration Detainer was faxed to the juvenile hall from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stating that Christian had a prior felony conviction or had been charged with a felony offense, that he had illegally re-entered after a previous removal, and there was an order of deportation. The detainer requested that juvenile hall maintain custody of the minor to allow DHS to take custody of him, with an attached “Warrant of Removal/Deportation.” Christian admitted that he had possessed a controlled substance as alleged. Christian’s counsel indicated that she was satisfied he understood the immigration consequences of his admission. Christian stated he had traveled from Honduras to the U.S. 10 months earlier without his mother’s permission. The dispositional order required him to reside with his mother in Honduras. The court of appeal reversed. The court may have proceeded under the erroneous premise that it was compelled to transfer custody to federal authorities. The court expressly determined that it was not in Christian’s best interests to return to Honduras because he had been abandoned by his biological father who has never provided assistance or support and that his mother is unable to provide support. The conflicting findings cannot be reconciled View "In re Christian H." on Justia Law

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Israel was born in Mexico in 1999 and is not a U.S. citizen. He came to the U.S. with his mother in 2005 and has no contact with his father in Mexico He was adjudged a ward of the juvenile court as a result of admitting to misdemeanor receiving of stolen property. Israel requested that the court make findings that would qualify him for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status under federal law (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J), which would allow Israel to pursue regularization of his immigration status. The juvenile court declined to make findings that reunification “with one or both” parents was not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment; that Israel was a dependent of a juvenile court or committed or placed with a state agency; and that it was not in his “best interest” to be returned to Mexco. The court of appeal remanded. USCIS currently interprets and applies section 1101(a)(27)(J) to include, as “SIJ eligible children” those who may be living in this country “with a foster family, an appointed guardian, or the non-abusive parent” and the trial court did not make a finding on whether it is in Israel’s best interest to return to Mexico. View "In re Israel O." on Justia Law

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Erick M., a juvenile, requested that the juvenile court enter an order finding that under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J), he was eligible for "special immigrant juvenile" (SIJ) status. SIJ status allows a juvenile immigrant to remain in the United States and seek lawful permanent resident status if federal authorities conclude that the statutory conditions are met. The conditions include a court order determining that the juvenile's reunification with "1 or both" parents is not feasible because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The juvenile court found Erick did not satisfy that requirement. At issue on appeal was the meaning of the phrase "1 or both" parents. Erick lived only with his mother when the juvenile court adjudicated him as a dependent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) when ruling on a petitioner's motion for an eligibility order under section 1101(a)(27)(J), a court should generally consider whether reunification with either parent is feasible; and (2) therefore, the juvenile court did no err in finding that because reunification with Erick's mother was feasible, he was not eligible for SIJ status. View "In re Interest of Erick H." on Justia Law