Young people in foster care face untold barriers in their journey toward security and independence. For many children in care these barriers to success are exacerbated by the fact that they are without legal immigration status in the United States. A young person in foster care who is undocumented faces potential deportation at any time. Many of these young people were brought to the United States at such a young age that they do not remember living anywhere else. For these children, being deported to a country where they are completely disconnected from any family or caring adults, may not speak the language and are unfamiliar with the culture is a terrifying prospect. Lawful Permanent Residency (a “green card”) is critical for their physical and emotional safety and wellbeing.
LFC’s Immigration Rights Project consists of two attorneys and a master’s-level social worker who are dedicated to addressing the issues faced by undocumented youth in care.
Our Immigration Rights Project staff utilize the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) Statute, a special provision in the Immigration and Naturalization Act, to obtain lawful permanent residence for eligible undocumented clients. Through SIJS, a child may apply for a green card if the Family Court makes special findings, including that the child cannot reunify with one or both parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. SIJS may also be available to children who are not in foster care, including children who are the subject of guardianship, custody, and adoption proceedings. Project staff also engage in outreach to provide young people in foster care with information about SIJS and about other pressing immigration issues.
Enabling our clients to stay in the U.S. legally allows them to continue their education, become eligible for employment and embark on a promising future in the country that is their home.