HIAS Pennsylvania's Immigrant Youth Advocate Team Hopeful after Great New Jersey Supreme Court Decision

On Monday, August 26, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its decision in HSP v. JK and KG v. MS, companion cases deciding issues related to Special Iimmigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) in the New Jersey state courts.The court issued a unanimous decision, directing trial courts to make all findings related to SIJS and prohibiting them from making any findings related to eligibility for SIJS. Immigrant Youth Advocacy Project Superivising Attorney Elizabeth Yaeger was interviewed about the decision and its implications for Pennsylvania on Telemundo. Watch the interview here.

In order to obtain SIJS, eligible immigrant youth must first obtain a court order from a family court in the state where they reside. The Family Court Order must contain specific findings relating to the whether the child has been abused, neglected or abandoned by his or her parent and whether the child can return safely to his or her home country. Some Family Court Judges have been refusing to make these determinations, stating that these are findings related to their immigration status and not related to the child's best interests. The New Jersey decision makes it clear, however, that in New Jersey these are appropriate findings for Family Court Judges to make. The opinion can be found here: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/A114A117HSPvJK.pdf.