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HELP STOP DEPORTATION OF FATHER OF 4 YEAR OLD U.S. CITIZEN BOY WITH A SEVERE MEDICAL CONDITION

Wilfredis, currently detained by ICE , with his U.S. citizen son Justin, who is only 4 years old. ICE denied Wilfredis's request for discretion and plans to deport him.

Wilfredis, currently detained by ICE , with his U.S. citizen son Justin, who is only 4 years old. ICE denied Wilfredis’s request for discretion and plans to deport him.

Wilfredis Castillo (A #098-651-976) is the most important person in the life of his 4 year old son, Justin, a U.S. citizen who suffers from severe food allergies which  require him to be hospitalized frequently.

Wilfredis is the sole financial provider for Justin. His dad is his best friend.

But ICE is more interested in deporting Wilfredis than ensuring that a U.S. citizen boy who needs his dad in his life is separated from him forever.

Wilfredis has been detained by ICE in New Jersey for one month despite never having been convicted of a crime.

On March 3, ICE denied his request for prosecutorial discretion, even though he clearly falls under the guidelines as set forth in the Morton Memorandum and in the Sandweg Directive because he has a U.S. citizen child who suffers from a severe medical ailment, has resided in the U.S. since 2005, has no criminal history, and who has minimal ties to his native country of Honduras.

The Field Office Director of ICE’s New Jersey Office justified its decision by stating that:

Granting a stay of deportation or removal is reserved for a select group of cases whose circumstances reflect compelling humanitarian factors and, when considered with the mission of the agency, warrant such extraordinary action. The immigration history of this case, when balanced against the positive factors you raise and the agency’s goals, do not warrant a positive exercise of discretion.

This is unacceptable. Wilfredis does have a removal order from 2005. But his son’s entire life should not be sacrificed for the agency’s goal of removing as many individuals as possible irrespective of how it will devastate vulnerable members of our community.

 Please call ICE’s Deputy Assistant Director Andrew Lorenzen Strait at 202-732-4262 and Assistant Field Office Director Mark Vogler at 973-776-3328 to request Wilfredis be granted a stay of removal so that his son does not lose his dad forever. 

Alternatively, please write to Newark.Outeach@ICE.DHS.GOV and Ero.Outreach@ICE.DHS.GOV. Here is a sample script: 

Wilfredis Castillo (A # 098-651-976) is the sole financial provider of 4 year old U.S. citizen son who has severe food allergies and who will be devastated if his father is removed from the United States. He has no criminal convictions.

 Under the Morton Memorandum, Wilfredis is a perfect candidate for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion given how important he is to the welfare of his 4 year old U.S. citizen son, his length of residence in the United States, and the absence of any criminal history. 

 Given that Wilfredis is not a priority for removal under the Morton Memorandum and the Sandweg Directive, I respectfully request that the denial of his stay of removal be reconsidered. 

4 Sisters Granted Special Findings Orders From Family Court Will Now Get Green Cards.

Today the lives of 4 sisters from Central America–aged 16, 12, 10, and 5–have taken a turn for the better: A family court judge granted custody of the children to their mother and also issued a special findings order for each child. What this means is that all 4 sisters, who are currently in deportation proceedings, will now be able to apply for their green cards as special immigrant juveniles.

To top things off, the judge gave them lollipops as a bonus! All credit goes to Ala Amoachi, who managed to weave 4 convoluted stories into one clear legal brief.

Here is a picture of the children with their mother and stepfather:

IMG_8517

 

New York Appellate Court Issues Amazing Special Immigrant Juvenile Decision.

On February 5, 2014, the Appellate Division of the Second Judicial Department in New York issued a splendid decision that will have a huge impact on the future of undocumented children in New York.

In many situations, in order for an undocumented child to obtain residency through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”), the child must first have someone appointed as their guardian.

Unfortunately, many judges in family court are  skeptical of SIJS and as a result deny guardianship petitions if the natural parent is the petitioner.

In Brooklyn, Queens, Suffolk, and Nassau Counties, family court judges will no longer be able to deny guardianship petitions just because the natural parent is the petitioner. A big HATS OFF to the great  Professor Theo Liebmann  and his students at Hofstra University School of Law’s Youth Advocacy Clinic!

Here is the holding and link to the full decision:

On this appeal, we conclude that the subject children, facing the possibility of being separated from their only parent and returned to their native country where gang members have threatened their lives, may seek to have their natural mother appointed as their guardian as a first step toward obtaining legal residency in the United States.

 

 

NY Daily News Covers ICE’s Aggressive Attempts to Deport Our Client, an Abandoned Child Eligible For a Green Card

Erica Pearson of the New York Daily News wrote an article in today’s paper on ICE’s aggressive attempts to deport our client, a minor abandoned by both her parents who is eligible for a green card.

Here is the article below:

Long Islander Antonio Rodas is fighting to get his 19-year-old niece, Salvadoran Maria Isabel Peña Rodas, out of immigration detention and seeks to become her legal guardian

Federal authorities say Peña Rodas is an adult and deportation priority, but uncle’s lawyers say she is eligible for a special green card for abused or abandoned youth

BY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

MONDAY, JANUARY 13, 2014, 10:20 PM

CHRISTIE M FARRIELLA FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

A Long Island man fighting to get his niece out of immigration detention wants to become her legal guardian — and his lawyers say she is eligible for a special green card for abused or abandoned youth.

But federal authorities say 19-year-old Maria Isabel Peña Rodas, who left El Salvador last fall, is an adult. And because she’s a recent border crosser, she is a deportation priority.

Border officials caught Peña Rodas in Texas, and she has been in a California detention center for more than four months.

“I am just asking God and immigration to give her a chance to be with us,” said Peña Rodas’ uncle and godfather, Antonio Rodas, 43, of St. James, who has permission to live and work in the U.S. and does prep work at an Italian restaurant.

Rodas’ lawyer Ala Amoachi said Peña Rodas, who was abandoned by her parents and living with her grandmother in El Salvador, should qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, available to abandoned or abused people younger than 21.

“She would be clearly eligible,” Amoachi said. “We said, ‘Why don’t you release her on an order of supervision? Give us some time to get the process started.’ ”

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say that isn’t a reason to let Peña Rodas into the U.S. — because she would first need a family court judge to either declare her a court dependent or legally commit her to the care of a guardian.

She would also need a court order saying she can’t be reunited with one or more parents, and for the court to find that it’s in her best interest to stay in the U.S.

“An undocumented individual is only eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status if they are already a ward or dependent of the state court in the state where they reside,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said.

Amoachi expects a New York family court would grant Peña Rodas what she needs, but that can’t happen unless she’s in the state. If Peña Rodas were 17, officials would have already released her.

It is ICE’s policy not to detain unaccompanied kids younger than age 18 for more than 48 hours.

She would have instead been turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, within the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, and then either housed in a federal care center or placed with family.

As a growing number of young Central Americans travel alone to the Mexican border — many fleeing abusive homes or gang recruitment — Amoachi said those ages 18 to 20 face a paradox. They are too old to fit ICE’s requirements for release, but still young enough to qualify for a Juvenile Status green card.

Antonio Rodas said his niece told him she feared for her safety in her hometown — that two men had tried to assault her as she walked home from a store. “It would be a better life for her here,” he said.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/latino/uncle-battles-deportation-niece-article-1.1578604#ixzz2qOLQxRCm

Telemundo Exposes ICE’s Aggressive Deportation of Abused & Abandoned Children

Two of our clients, who are 18 and 19 years old, are currently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement despite being eligible for green cards as children abused and abandoned by their biological parents. In legal terms, they are special immigrant juveniles (SIJ).

We have written extensively on this issue here and here.

Note that ICE is flat out wrong when it claims SIJ is only available to children abused or abandoned in their native countries. The actual law states that a person only has to show that reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under State law.  8 U.S.C. § 1107(a)(27)(J)(i).

ICE leadership: We Prioritize The Removal of Special Immigrant Juveniles

Yesterday, San Francisco ICE denied the stay of removal of our client, a 19-year-old girl, even though she is clearly eligible for permanent residency as a special immigrant juvenile.

ICE headquarters affirmed San Francisco’s decision the same day.

At first, ICE did not explain why. We pressed them for an explanation and what they said is infuriating: ICE prioritizes the removal of individuals under the age of 21 but over 18 who are eligible for special immigrant juvenile status.

Specifically, ICE leadership said that our client was a priority because she was a recent illegal entrant with a final order of removal.

It was clear that the fact that she is eligible for permanent residency through special immigrant juvenile status does not matter.

ICE, you’ll be shocked to know, is in the business of removal, not of protecting vulnerable populations that Congress intended to help.

Although ICE will say that they consider prosecutorial discretion on a case by base basis, all individuals in our client’s situation–recent illegal entrants over the age of 18 eligible for SIJS–will be prioritized for removal despite being given a special path to a green card by Congress.

This is in direct contradiction with the June 17, 2011 Morton Memorandum which states that ICE should consider exercising discretion if a person can show they are eligible for permanent status in the United States.

This is wrong. ICE should create a policy to encourage the exercise of prosecutorial discretion for individuals over the age of 18 eligible for permanent residence through special immigrant juvenile status. Unfortunately, ICE will not do so unless they are forced to, either from Congress or through public pressure.

Call ICE headquarters at 202-732-3000 and request that they release from detention all individuals over the age of 18 who may be eligible for permanent residency as special immigrant juveniles. Tell them Bryan Johnson referred you.

 

 

ICE: Deporting Our Abused, Abandoned and Neglected Children

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has the power to deport, but it also has the power to issue bonds and parole immigrants into the United States.  Many guidelines have been made regarding ICE’s power of “prosecutorial discretion,” indicating which humanitarian considerations should be taken into account, and how.  Minors are one consideration, but there are no guidelines for children eligible for special immigrant juvenile status (“SIJS”).  The consequences are devastating.

Juveniles under the age of 18 are taken into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and released to an adult caregiver, but juveniles between the age of 18 and 21 are treated like adults– like criminals in adult detention facilities.

Under the federal regulations defining SIJS, the U.S. government considers anyone under the age of 21 to be a child.  In many States, individuals under the age of 21 are considered minors, and can be placed in the care of an adult who makes medical, educational, and legal decisions on their behalf.

Minors under the age of 21 who have been abandoned, neglected or abused by either one or both parents are classified as “special immigrant juveniles” and they are eligible for their green card.  But what happens when they come into the U.S. and are detained by DHS near the border?   Quite simply, ICE deports these abandoned, abused, and neglected children.  The lack of a specific and comprehensive prosecutorial discretion policy for these juveniles is inexcusable.

Let us look at the examples of two of our clients, who are currently at immediate risk of being deported because of ICE’s inhumane actions.  Let us call them “Ana” and “Jose” to protect their confidentiality.

Ana’s story.  Ana is a 19-year old citizen of El Salvador, who was abandoned by both parents when she was only one year old.  She was raised her whole life by her grandmother, who does not work and depends entirely on the charity of family members in the United States.   Her grandfather was killed when she was two years old, right next door to her.

Recently, Ana witnessed a man being killed in front of their home.  Because she was a crime witness, gang members told her that she had to join them, or she would be killed because of what she witnessed. One day a man attempted to rape her.   Because of Ana’s terrifying situation and lack of support, she fled El Salvador for the safety of our shores.

Because she has no parents, she was left even more vulnerable to the threats of gang members. She had no adult to protect her, or to give her guidance in the greatest time of need in her life.

Because of erroneous decisions by the asylum office and an immigration judge, her credible fear interview to determine whether she would be able to apply for asylum was denied.

But this should not matter. She should never have had to been detained for weeks to wait for an asylum interview. She should have been paroled immediately into the United States to be able to pursue her green card through special immigrant juvenile status.

On November 15, 2013, I filed an Application for a Stay of her Removal with the San Francisco Enforcement and Removal (“ERO”) Field Office, because Ana is an abandoned and neglected child who is eligible for her green card based on special immigrant juvenile status. Ana’s deportation officer told her that her deportation is scheduled for this Saturday.

Jose’s story.  Jose is a 18-year old citizen of El Salvador.  Growing up, he was abused by his violent and alcoholic father.  His father beat him and his mother for years, severely, and always came home intoxicated.  His home life was torturous.

Recently, members of the biggest gang in El Salvador, MS-13, tried to recruit Jose into their gang.  Jose refused, telling them that he was dedicated to good things and to God’s work, and he did not like doing bad things to good people.  As a result,  three gang members beat him with their hands and feet, took him by the neck, and tried to strangle him.  The gangs did not finish what they started because a witness drove by and they did not want to be caught.

Jose went to the doctor to treat the bruises all over his body.  He stopped going to school and did not leave his house for days, until he escaped El Salvador.

However, when he came to the United States, he did not pass his credible fear interview because the asylum officer did not believe that the government of El Salvador would acquiesce to his torture–despite the government’s well-documented connections with MS-13 and the U.S. government’s recognition of MS-13 as an “international criminal organization.”  An Immigration Judge erroneously affirmed the asylum officer’s decision by in essence requiring Jose to meet the burden of proof for a full-blown asylum hearing.

On November 14, 2013, we filed an Application for a Stay of Removal for Jose at the San Antonio Field Office, because he is eligible for special immigrant juvenile status if he is released.  There has not yet been a decision on his application, and he is at immediate risk of deportation just like Ana.

Congress made SIJS into law in order to protect young persons such as Jose and Ana. Congress also made the SIJS law to empower them, to give them a chance to become Americans despite having broken immigration laws in the past.

How does it go?  “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, but deport your abused, abandoned, and neglected children?”  No, there is something fundamentally wrong with this.  This is an urgent message to ICE:  Please, don’t deport our abused and abandoned juveniles.

There should be a specific screening and prosecutorial discretion policy for individuals under the age of 21 to determine if there is a possibility they could obtain lawful permanent residency through SIJS. If there is a positive screening decision, the individual should be paroled into the U.S. for the opportunity to pursue SIJS.

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