Young people in New Jersey who are undocumented immigrants but came into the country when they were minors now have the right to submit an application to be part of a federal amnesty program aimed at people under the age of 21 who were abandoned or abused in their original country, the state’s Supreme Court decided on Wednesday.
The ruling was a victory for three immigrants who walked across the border between the United States and Mexico – two teenage girls originally from El Salvador and one young Indian man – who claimed they were unable to go back home due to the fact they were faced with life-threatening conditions including gang violence and extreme poverty.
New hearings in front of family judges have now been ordered by the high court to decide whether the three were abandoned, neglected or battered in their home countries and whether it is in their best interests to allow them to remain in the United States. Regardless of the outcome, they will be entitled to submit an application for ‘special immigrant juvenile status’ to federal authorities, with the final decision as to whether to continue or proceed with their deportation or to grant legal status being down to the Department of Homeland Security.
“This is about a small number of abused children who are entitled under federal law to avoid being sent back to an abused parent, and this decision today will let the federal immigration officials do their job,” said Lowenstein Sadler lawyer Matthew Boxer, who represented the young immigrants.