The US has begun the process of deporting foreign nationals from Central American countries. In many cases, these individuals are women and children who fled wars, poverty, and crime in their homelands. Now, the US government is sending them back for missing immigration hearings during which they were not provided legal counsel.
Within this issue is another issue; that of women and children who have fled abuse and violence at the hands of their families. For children, these children can be issued Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). This helps protect abused, neglected, or abandoned children from deportation. The US currently has a 10,000 person cap on SIJS status. This number has been climbing rapidly as individuals from Central America make their way to the US.
“In 2015, 8,739 SJIS petitions were filed and approved. This was up from 3,431 just two years ago. In 2016, the number of applications will exceed the cap. Thus, if the cap isn’t raised, it means that children could be returned to very dangerous situations in the immediate future,” warned Chicago immigration lawyer Ronald Shapiro.
Many of the individuals filing SIJS applications come from countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. These nations have some of the highest crime rates in the world. Since it’s creation in 1990, SIJS green cards and programs such as the DREAM Act have helped children stay in the United States legally. This has helped many start new lives here, away from the violence, crime, and corruption inherent to their home countries.
“Unless SIJS is expanded this year, many children and their mothers will find themselves thrust into very dangerous situations. Returning them to countries where they will have no money, no family support, and weak ties to the community will sentence many to lives of poverty and crime. In worst case scenarios, it may even be a sentence of death for some,” lamented Chicago immigration lawyer Ronald Shapiro.