Recently, Rachel Davidson, Managing Attorney, Policy and Special Projects, The Door and Laila Hlass, Law Professor, Tulane Law School released an op-ed, published by Ms. Magazine highlighting the work of “Any Day They Could Deport Me”, a collaborative project conducted by The Door, The End SIJS Backlog Coalition and Professor Laila Hlass.
On Dec. 2, 2021, we published a report, “‘Any Day They Could Deport Me’: Over 44,000 Immigrant Children Trapped in the SIJS Backlog,” based on this newly released data and firsthand interviews of impacted children, quantifying the harms of the SIJS backlog and calling on Congress and the Biden administration to protect these children.
As immigration lawyers who represent children, we have long been troubled by the devastating impact of the SIJS backlog. Congress created SIJS in 1990 as a pathway to permanency and safety for children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected. One of the drafters of the law was even a child welfare worker, which might be why the law requires a state court decision that it is in “the best interests” of the child to stay in the U.S.
Yet, tens of thousands of vulnerable children granted SIJS are prevented for years from accessing SIJS’s real benefit: lawful permanent residence. This is because SIJS children are treated as “special workers” in the green card visa system, which is bound by country-specific limits on the number of visas available.