March 18, 2019
A New York federal judge decided Friday that the Trump administration broke the law by denying immigrants Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl said only Congress and not immigration authorities can deny the status, which can provide a path to a green card, to immigrant adults under 21 years old.
Early last year, the administration began systematically denying the status, which was created for children who were abused, neglected or abandoned by a parent to obtain green cards. Latham & Watkins and the Legal Aid Society filed a class action lawsuit challenging the apparent policy change last June on behalf of a plaintiff who had been beaten by relatives in Haiti. Another plaintiff said they fled to the US from El Salvador after receiving gang threats there.
On Friday, the judge instructed lawyers to begin implementing his decision and granted class status to the plaintiffs. Legal Aid lawyers estimated that 3,000 people were affected by the policy change.