On January 24th, representative Richard H. Black introduced legislation that would prohibit the juvenile and domestic relations (“JDR”) courts from making determinations regarding the best interest of a child for purposes of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status unless that child is lawfully present in the United States. The federal statute enables JDR judges to determine whether a child was abandoned, abused or neglected and whether or not it is in the best interest of that child to return to his/her home country. The law does not differentiate between children who legally present, on a visitor or student visa, or those who are not legally present. If the legislation passes it will have a devastating impact on many immigrant children. Most of our SIJ kids fled horrible situations in their home countries and have no legal status in the United States. Under the proposed legislation, these children living in Virginia would not be able to seek the protection afforded to them under the federal law.
The bill will most likely be on the Senate Courts docket tomorrow! We need your support; either with phone calls or in person at the meeting tomorrow! If you don’t know who your Senator is you can click here for more information: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php. You can find the names of the committee members here: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?171+com+S3. If you are a resident of Virginia we urge you to call; tell them you oppose the bill and to vote “no” to SB1592.