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Immigrant Children to Lose Place in Line

June 15, 2014
Plain English Version

Immigrant children 1Many permanent residents and green card holders have children. Some children are American citizens. Others must apply for legal status. The process takes a long time.

Parents apply for their children. If the children have not gotten legal status by age 21, they have to re-apply. They start all over again.

A 2002 law allows seems to allow children to continue their child status after they turn 21.

The Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) saw things differently in 2008. It said that only in limited cases did the 2002 law apply.

Legal permanent residents challenged that ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court took up the case. It agreed with the BIA. It said that children who did not get the right to stay by age 21 would indeed have to re-apply and begin the application process all over again.

One opinion said that when a law is not clear, the rules of federal agencies (BIA) have to apply.

If children lose their status they become subject to deportation. The outcome could be a large increase in the number of families separated from their children. Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) said thousands, if not hundreds of thousands will be affected by the ruling. They will go to the back of the line.

A Senate bill on immigration passed last year. It allowed children to keep their status until they became legal residents. The bill did not become law.

Congress could easily pass a law ending age 21 as the cut-off age.

An advocate said the aged-out children of immigrants would “continue to be in limbo, waiting for leadership…before they are back on the path to citizenship.”

Source: The New York Times June 9, 2014

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