LOS ANGELES– Attorney General Xavier Becerra yesterday filed a friend-of-the-court brief in In re Denis G., a case involving an unaccompanied immigrant youth seeking legal immigration status. At the invitation of the Los Angeles Superior Court and the suggestion of the California Supreme Court, Attorney General Becerra weighed in on this issue of great importance regarding youth fleeing dangerous conditions in their home countries.
“Imagine a child you know fleeing to our country because she was being abused, abandoned or neglected by her parents. As people, can we really turn our back on them? Californians have answered 'no' by passing laws that provide a clear and consistent process so that these children can seek refuge by obtaining legal status,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I am committed to promoting the safety and security of all California children. I will work to make sure that our state laws are consistently applied so that our courts remain open to those who must undergo the legal processes necessary to seek a visa.”
In recent years, California has worked to streamline the process that allows children, like Denis, to apply for “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” (SIJS) with the federal government. That process allows certain minors who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents to remain in the United States. Youth who wish to apply for this type of immigration relief from the federal government must first obtain an order from a state court making certain findings. Filed at the court’s invitation, yesterday’s amicus brief discusses the vital role our state courts play in making child welfare decisions as part of the special immigrant juvenile process, describes applicable state laws, and emphasizes the importance of ensuring that children are able to pursue any valid claims for SIJS.
Attorney General Becerra believes that it is critical to stand up for unaccompanied children who come to California seeking safety and security. Since coming into office, Attorney General Becerra has acted to protect the rights of California’s immigrant population, especially immigrant children. In April 2017, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court in In re Bianka M., arguing that minors who are living with one parent in the United States should be allowed to seek an order in state court necessary to obtain “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” without having to join the absent parent—who abused, abandoned, or neglected them—as a party to the proceeding.
A copy of the brief filed yesterday is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.