Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Troubles Ahead for the Special Immigration Juvenile Program

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has concerns about the Special Immigration Juvenile (SIJ) program. He's sent a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, highlighting allegations of SIJ fraud. 

Goodlatte's fraud concerns stem from a report on NY station WNBC regarding potential SIJ fraud. The report emphasized the fact that family court judges have no way to verify abuse alleged by children coming before them on their first stop to obtaining SIJ status: "Although [their stories] may be completely true, judges say they have no investigative recourse."

The NYT has also covered the issue of potential SIJ abuse and Goodlatte's concerns.

Immprof Olga Bryrne (Fordham) has blogged about the issue at The Hill. She notes that there are already anti-fraud measures in place to screen SIJ seekers:

State court judges are skilled fact-checkers and experts in identifying child abuse and neglect. In fact, the reason Congress delegated the factual findings to state courts was their proficiency as child welfare experts. At the federal level, USCIS is statutorily required to review each SIJ application for potential fraud.

Byrne concludes by noting that

SIJ was pioneering in that it was the first piece of legislation that brought immigration law more closely in line with well-established child welfare principles. Increasing administrative barriers or reducing substantive eligibility will only exclude desperate children from the protection they need.


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