Prof. Theo Liebmann Successfully Argues Case in 2nd Department

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Professor Liebmann’s Youth Advocacy Clinic had represented a 20 year-old youth from El Salvador who had been living in this country for seven years without lawful immigration status and was at constant risk of deportation. The client was seeking “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” so that she would not be deported. In spite of excellent work by clinic students at the trial, the Family Court had denied the petition because it determined the youth was not “abandoned” because she had never had a relationship with her father and was living with her mother. The Second Department overturned the Family Court decision, thanks primarily to the detailed and thorough record that the students Jennifer Sullivan and Brent Weitzberg had made at the trial. This is obviously a life-changing decision for the client, but, more broadly, the decision firmly clarifies that children who still live with one parent are also eligible for SIJS. That question had been widely debated both in New York Family Courts and in other states’ highest courts. The Second Department’s decision is the first appellate level ruling on this issue in New York, and makes legal status an attainable goal for many more children without legal status who have been abandoned or maltreated. The case cite is Matter of Karen C., 2013 NY Slip. Op. 07170 (2nd Dept. 11/6/13).

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