A class action challenges the federal government’s allegedly unconstitutional refusal to timely resolve and approve applications for employment authorization documents for abused, neglected or abandoned minor immigrants.
A proposed class action lawsuit challenges the federal government’s allegedly unconstitutional refusal to timely resolve and approve applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) for abused, neglected or abandoned minors and youths who were granted special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status by state courts.
The 30-page lawsuit against U.S. Department of Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Ur M. Jaddou says that many SIJ petitioners are unable to file applications for or be granted EADs unless and until they are able to file an application for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident. The suit alleges that as a result of visa quota backlogs from Central American countries, many SIJ petitioners cannot file applications for adjustment of status for “five or six years” after they’ve filed their initial SIJ petitions.
The lawsuit contends that the government’s policy that prevents SIJ petitioners from obtaining EADs unless and until they are able to apply for lawful permanent resident status often forces tens of thousands of individuals to go “cold, hungry, or homeless for many years,” and to work “in underground exploitative jobs” as a way to survive while waiting to apply for EADs.
Moreover, the case says that while the government’s policy, which the lawsuit contends is “an administrative decision not required by any federal law,” forces SIJ petitioners to wait years to obtain employment authorization, the defendants allow other vulnerable immigrants who file visa petitions to apply for and receive employment authorization while their visa petitions are pending or after they’ve been approved, long before they can apply for lawful permanent resident status.
“There is no rational, substantial, or compelling reason for the disparate and discriminatory way in which Defendants treat young abused, neglected, and abandoned immigrants filing SIJ petitions,” the complaint scathes.
By law, applications for special immigrant status must be adjudicated by the Secretary of Homeland Security no later than 180 days after the date on which an application is filed, the lawsuit states.
The suit looks to cover all persons who have or will submit SIJ petitions (Form I-360) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and who are deemed ineligible to apply for or receive employment authorization until their priority dates are current and they may apply for adjustment of status.
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