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.