Lawsuit requests data necessary to assess treatment of tens of thousands of immigrant children vulnerable under SIJS backlog.
On August 18, 2021, The End SIJS Backlog Coalition, a national group of directly impacted youth and allied advocates, announced a lawsuit against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking expedited processing of a Freedom of Information Act request for agency data on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) adjudications and applications. The suit, filed by Milbank LLP on behalf of plaintiffs not-for-profit The Door and Tulane Law School’s Immigrant Rights Clinic Co-Director, Laila Hlass, as part of the broader End SIJS Backlog Coalition, follows USCIS’ failure to comply with the plaintiffs’ April 2021 FOIA request for data that is necessary to examine trends in the treatment of immigrant children under the SIJS statute, a matter of urgent importance affecting the well-being of tens of thousands of vulnerable immigrant youths.
USCIS denied the request for expedited processing without reasoning or analysis justifying the decision and, nearly four months after the initial FOIA request was made, still has not provided the requested records.
“The Door and the over 70 partner organizations across the country that form the End SIJS Backlog Coalition are actively working with members of Congress and the Senate to find a legislative solution to the SIJS Green Card Backlog, which undermines the protective purpose of SIJS and leaves immigrant children at risk of exploitation, homelessness and deportation, despite USCIS having approved them for protections,” said Rachel Davidson, Managing Attorney at The Door and End SIJS Backlog Coalition Steering Committee Member. “Congress is in the throes of monumental immigration reform, and if we do not have accurate information on SIJS and the impacts of the backlog on immigrant children, they will be left out of it. Access to this information means the difference between the public and Congress acting to protect tens of thousands of vulnerable immigrant children or doing nothing.”