On April 20, 2013, Safe Passage once again reached out to immigrant youth in the community, this time by holding a citizenship clinic at a high school in Washington Heights. New York Law School alumni Desiree Hernandez ’08, Mayra Cano ’11, Kelly Garner ‘11 interviewed students and their families and determined that many of them were eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship or other forms of immigration relief. We assisted them in preparing their N-400’s and will be working closely with them as they go through the naturalization process. NYLS students and ILSA members Ilana Snyder 3L, Vivian Carballo 3L, Luisa Lebron 2L, Vanessa Caicedo 2L, Kara Kelly 2L, Vanessa Caicedo 2L, Christine Magee 2L, provided invaluable assistance in organizing and participating in Citizenship day. Safe Passage would like to extend a very special thank you to Desiree Hernandez ’08, who led the charge and was deemed Most Valuable Player by the High School students, social workers, and ILSA members. Together, Safe Passage and ILSA, completed 13 citizenship interviews, and 3 comprehensive status screenings.
David Lenzner, a High School Spanish teacher summed up the day stating, “Safe Passage continues to change the lives of students and their families. Every school in New York City should be able to turn to such a smart, thorough and thoughtful organization for legal assistance and guidance.”
*This document is designed to accompany the 3-part video series that provides an overview lecture on the basic structure of SIJS emailed to all participants prior to the September 13,2012 CLE.
There are three video links:
Basic Requirements of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status – Part 1
Basic Requirements of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status – Part 2
Basic Requirements of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status – Part 3
What is SIJS? Video One [1:10]
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is an immigration classification available to certain undocumented immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents.
The statutory definition is found in the Immigration and Nationality Act § 101(a)(27; 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(j):
(27) The term “special immigrant” means—…
(J) an immigrant who is present in the United States—
(i) who has been declared dependent on a juvenile court located in the United States or whom such a court has legally committed to, or placed under the custody of, an agency or department of a State, or an individual or entity appointed by a State or juvenile court located in the United States, and whose reunification with 1 or both of the immigrant’s parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under State law;
(ii) for whom it has been determined in administrative or judicial proceedings that it would not be in the alien’s best interest to be returned to the alien’s or parent’s previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence; and
(iii) in whose case the Secretary of Homeland Security consents to the grant of special immigrant juvenile status, except that—
(I) no juvenile court has jurisdiction to determine the custody status or placement of an alien in the custody of the Secretary of Health and Human Services unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services specifically consents to such jurisdiction; and
(II) no natural parent or prior adoptive parent of any alien provided special immigrant status under this subparagraph shall thereafter, by virtue of such parentage, be accorded any right, privilege, or status under this chapter
The following are points to keep in mind:
Criteria & Eligibility Requirements Video One [3:40]
There are very specific requirements for a minor to qualify for SIJS, and the criteria are codified in INA § 101(a)(27)(J):
Two-Step Process to SIJS Video One [8:50]
Representing the Child Video One [15:45]
Family Court Jurisdiction over a Minor Video One [17:21]
Neglect, Abuse, and Abandonment Standards [Video Two]
Sample pleadings and memoranda of law will be found in the CLE materials and/or posted on the Safe Passage website.
Completing the SIJS application Video Two [13:27]
There are two ways to file SIJS for the immigration component:
Negative Aspects of SIJS Video 2 [25:25]
Q&A — Is there a limit to a child’s involvement in the court system? [Video 3]
Q&A — In a guardianship proceeding, does the guardian need to be a relative and must they have legal status themselves? [Video 3, 2:30]
Q&A — Can New York Law School’s Safe Passage Project help you if the child is not a resident of New York? Video 3 [10:35]
Q&A — How do you compare eligibility for SIJS as opposed to President Obama’s announcement that some immigrant youth qualify for Deferred Action? Video 3 [11:30]
Q&A — Does the work from the Safe Passage Project count towards the recommended pro bono hours by the New York State Bar Association? Video 3 [16:50]
As a recently graduated law student who wishes to volunteer pro bono but has not yet been admitted to the bar, your representation of the child must be a partnership under the supervision of an admitted attorney. Current law students must also work under the supervision of a licensed attorney and should check with their law school about how to keep track of qualifying pro bono work.
The Safe Passage Immigration Project
The Project helps existing social service providers and non-profit organizations screen juvenile populations and identify immigration relief available to these children. The Project also works to provide legal representation for children such as:
Safe Passage Project and the Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families are sponsoring the film in Room W401. We hope to start shortly after 5 p.m. and the event is over by 7:15. I was able to attend the world premiere. Come. The film will inspire and move you to action.
Below is a link to the trailer.
10×10 is a feature film and global campaign. Our message is simply this: Educating girls in the developing world will bring transformational change.
From Lenni Benson:
Our last day at the immigration court happened to fall on Valentine’s Day.
Our special valentines were so many wonderful students and pro bono attorneys volunteering at the juvenile docket.
Each month Safe Passage attorneys and students meet between ten and twenty-five immigrant children who are appearing in immigration court.
Volunteer Marie Kimmel joined us and helped some of the children make Valentines while they waited to meet attorneys or for their court appearance.
Thank you as always to Adjunct Professors Bethany Ow, Martin Rothstein and Abbey Center Fellow Guillermo Stampur. Tremendous support was provided by Virginia Vazquez, Alissa Kane, and Katie Smelas.
Safe Passage Law Students appeared for children and obtaining continuances while we seek pro bono counsel. Thank you Ilana Snyder, Vivian Carballo, Michael Bonsignore, Aleida Sainz; Yissel Cabrera, Aaron Julka, Adena Altman, and Robin Axelrod.
Several more students volunteered as runners, translators, or note takers:
NYLS Students: Vanessa Caicedo, Christian Alvarez, and Jose Ortiz.
Columbia Students: Jean Choi, Carolina Escalera, and Mae Ackerman.
Attorneys who volunteered at court: Sandra Nichols, Paul Irlando, Catherine Doscher, and Lyndsey Yoshino.
Pro Bono Attorneys who took on cases and appeared today:
Want to join in? Our next days at court are Thursday, March 14 and Thursday, April 11 from 8:30 A.M. to noon each day. Please contact us if you can volunteer.
Free CLE! Please come support our wonderful students as they present on a immigration issues relevant to the representation of undocumented youth. This evening will feature presentations on:
1. U and T nonimmigrant status
2. Filing Requests for Information Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
No need to register in advance, sign up for 1 skills CLE credit at the door. Beverages and light refreshments will be served. We look forward to seeing you there!
On February 23, 2013, the Safe Passage Immigration Project held a Know Your Rights presentation and immigration screening at SCO Family of Services in Queens, New York. New York Law School alumni Desiree Hernandez ’08 and Bryan Johnson ’08 gave an excellent presentation, after which NYLS students and alumni interviewed immigrant youth, birth parents, and guardians to determine if the children were eligible for citizenship, special immigrant juvenile status, or other forms of immigration relief. A big thanks to the following volunteers: Nicole Israel 1L, Sterling Santamaria 1L, James Walsh 3L, Jennifer Anzardo ’10, Desiree Hernandez ’08, Paul Irlando ’11, Bryan Johnson ’08, Dominic Kong, Katie Smelas ’12, and Jacky Agudelo. Our wonderful group completed twelve interviews, and our amazing alumni at the event have already taken on eight of these pro bono cases. Thanks to everyone who took part!
The photo at left was taken at our event. Safe Passage Project members from left to right: Adjunct Professor Bethany L. Ow ’09, Paul Irlando ’11, Jennifer Anzardo ’10, Nicole Israel 1L, Jacky Agudelo, Professor Lenni B. Benson, Bryan Johnson ’08, Desiree Hernandez ’08, James Walsh 3L, and Katie Smelas ’12. (Not pictured: Sterling Santamaria, Dominic Kong and Abbey Fellow Gui Stampur).