*Amicus Briefs-Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Guardianship of S.H.R. v. Jesus Rivas (March 21, 2022; August 15, 2022) Supreme Court of California. NIWAP, represented by Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of California in a case in which the Court of Appeals wrongly denied an SIJS eligible child SIJS predicate findings. The amicus brief detailed the legislative and regulatory history of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and discussed how the approach taken by the Court of Appeals directly contradicts this legislative and regulatory history and the 2022 SIJS regulations issued by DHS. The brief discussed how the courts below incorrectly applies laws of a foreign country when application of California law is required by SIJS regulations, statutes and policies. The brief also discusses how it is impermissible for court to fail to issue SIJS findings when there is uncontroverted credible evidence to support the findings. The California Supreme Court in a unanimous decision with one concurrence adopted the approach advocates by NIWAP’s amicus brief and the 2022 SIJS regulations relied up in the brief.

Topics addressed in this Amicus Brief:

  • State Courts Have an Important but Circumscribed Factfinding Role in the SIJ Statutory Scheme………………. 16
  • A State Court’s Role is Solely to Make Threshold Findings; Ultimate Determinations of SIJ Eligibility Remain with the Federal Agency…………… 16
  • A State Court Must Make SIJ Findings Under Applicable State Law…………………….. 26
  • State law governs the state court’s findings ……….. 26
  • A State Court “Shall” Issue SIJ Findings If “There is Evidence to Support Them”……….41

Velasquez v. Miranda Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (February 1 2024). NIWAP, represented by K & L Gates, filed an amicus brief on appeal from the judgement of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania dated June 20, 2023. The amicus brief argues that any confusion regarding the role of Pennsylvania courts in the process of obtaining SIJ status jeopardizes the ability of a child who is otherwise eligible for SIJ status to receive the protections created for them by Congress. State courts must fulfill their role in the process of obtaining SIJ status by making SIJ judicial determinations. The confusion among state courts’ role in SIJ judicial determinations is not inevitable. The Court should uphold the rights of immigrant children applying for SIJ status and remove confusion from Pennsylvania Law.

Topics addressed in this Amicus Brief:

  • Delayed amendment of the SIJ regulations has created confusion as to the limited yet vital role of state courts in the process of obtaining SIJ status. This Court should clarify that role………….5
  • The Court of Common Pleas erred when it failed to make the requested SIJ judicial determinations despite being a qualified juvenile court……………………12
  • When SIJ judicial determinations are requested, state courts must apply state law in the same manner as they apply state family law and state family law procedures in all other custody and family-law cases adjudicated in Pennsylvania……………….17