Erin Durnell answers:
It is always tragic when a child is a victim of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. That kind of circumstance can be even more troublesome when a child is in the United States illegally. Often, these children have been in the United States for so long that they no longer know the language or customs of their country of origin, and may not have anyone in their home country to take care of them. Under these circumstances, it may be in a child’s best interests to remain the in U.S. as a special immigrant.
We can ask a state court with jurisdiction over the child to make certain findings related to that child. Specifically, we ask the court to find the child to be a victim of abuse, abandonment, or neglect; that family reunification is not viable with the parent who abandoned, abused, or neglected the child; that it would not be in the child’s best interests to be returned to his or her country of origin; that it would be in the child’s best interests to remain in the U.S.; and that the child is eligible for special immigrant juvenile status. With those findings, the child is then able to petition for permanent resident status.