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Stay of Removal Granted For Special Immigrant Juvenile Detained More than 6 months!

The approval notice of Maria's stay of removal.

The approval notice of Maria’s stay of removal.

ICE tried very hard to deport Maria Pena Rodas, a 19 year old who has always been eligible to obtain her green card as a special immigrant juvenile (“SIJS”). Even after the New York Daily News and Telemundo exposed ICE’s harsh policy towards Maria and others in her situation, ICE steamed forward in its core “business of removal.”

Thankfully, ICE forced us to think hard and creatively on how we could keep Maria here and obtain her permanent residency through SIJS despite her being detained by ICE across the country in California.

Racing against the clock–Maria was scheduled to be deported on March 25–we convinced a Family Court judge in Suffolk County that she had jurisdiction to appoint Maria’s uncle as her guardian and to issue a special findings order.  These Family Court orders made Maria immediately eligible to qualify for her green card as a special immigrant juvenile.

After obtaining the orders, we immediately filed a stay of removal with ICE the following day, which was enough to cancel her deportation while a decision was pending.

Today, we received the great news that the stay of removal was approved and she will be on a flight to NY to be reunited with her uncle tomorrow. 

She will likely be a permanent resident of the United States within 6 months.

In case you were wondering about how a NY court had jurisdiction to appoint a guardian over a child detained in California, here is how:

“Pursuant to SCPA § 1702(2), where an infant is a ‘non-domiciliary of the state but has property situate in that country’ the court ‘may appoint a guardian of his person or property, or both.’”

Maria’s family created a trust account for her in Suffolk County, New York, thereby giving the Family Court jurisdiction to appoint a guardian over her person and property.


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