NEW YORK (November 11, 2013) – In an important victory for abandoned, neglected or abused immigrant children, McDermott Will & Emery LLP is pleased to announce that the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department unanimously reversed a Westchester Family Court’s ruling refusing to make the factual findings that would enable McDermott client Brenda E.G.E. to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”).
“This was a great victory for immigrant children seeking to stay with their families in the United States and pursue a legal path to citizenship,” said Andrew B. Kratenstein, New York-based Trial partner who handled the appeal.
El Salvador-born Brenda was abandoned by her father when she was six-years old. When Brenda was 12-years old, her mother left El Salvador for the United States. Brenda joined her mother in 2009, after Brenda’s maternal grandmother’s health deteriorated and their neighborhood in El Salvador had become increasingly unsafe due to drug violence.
In 2010, Brenda’s mother petitioned the Family Court for sole custody of Brenda. The Family Court granted the petition, but refused to make the special findings that would allow Brenda to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for SIJS – a gateway to lawful permanent residency in the United States. The Family Court reasoned that Brenda was not entitled to such an order because her mother was available to care for Brenda and had not abandoned her. As a result of the Family Court’s ruling, Brenda faced risk of deportation.
The Appellate Division unanimously reversed. The Court agreed with McDermott’s arguments that the record clearly established that Brenda met all the requirements for SIJS and that the federal SIJS statute required a finding that only one of Brenda’s parents (her father) had neglected, abused or abandoned her. That Brenda’s mother did not also neglect and abandon Brenda did not preclude issuance of the requested special findings.
The Appellate Division granted Brenda’s motion without remand and made the requested factual findings itself. Brenda can now immediately apply for SIJS so that she no longer faces risk of being torn away from her mother.
Working with Mr. Kratenstein on this case was Washington, D.C.-based Trial associate Andrea M. Alegrett.
About McDermott Will & Emery
McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,000 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Further extending our reach to Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.