J.U. v. J.C.P.C.

District of Columbia Court of Appeals No. 16-FM-1153 JAN. 4, 2018 J.U., Appellant, v. DRB-3166-16 J.C.P.C. Appellee. Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia BEFORE: Fisher and Beckwith, Associate Judges, and Steadman, Senior Judge. JUDGMENT This case was submitted to the court on the transcript of record, the briefs filed, and without presentation of oral argument. On consideration whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the trial court’s order of October 31, 2016, is vacated and the case is remanded to enter an amended order that includes the requisite SIJ status finding that C.J.P.U.’s reunification with his father is not viable due to abandonment under District of Columbia law. For the Court: Dated: January 4, 2018. Opinion by Senior Judge John M. Steadman. Notice: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the Atlantic and Maryland Reporters. Users are requested to notify the Clerk of the Court of any formal errors so that corrections may be made before the bound volumes go to press. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS No. 16-FM-1153 01/04/2018 J.U., APPELLANT, V. J.C.P.C., APPELLEE. Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (DRB-3166-16) (Hon. Hiram E. Puig-Lugo, Trial Judge) (Submitted November 20, 2017 Decided January 4, 2018) Evgenia V. Sorokina was on the brief for appellant. Before FISHER and BECKWITH, Associate Judges, and STEADMAN, Senior Judge. STEADMAN, Senior Judge: C.J.P.U., the minor at the heart of this appeal, illegally entered this country in 2015 as an unaccompanied fourteen-year-old teenager from El Salvador to join his mother (“J.U.” or “appellant”), who has been living here since 2005.1 He seeks to remain in this country as a juvenile qualified 1 As is customary in appeals involving juvenile matters, we use here the initials of the minor and the parties. 2 for “special immigrant juvenile” status (“SIJ”). Among other requirements, to achieve this status a juvenile court must find that “reunification with 1 or both of the immigrant’s parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under State law.” 8 U.S.C. § 1101 (a)(27)(J) (2009 Supp. II). The issue before us is whether the trial court erred in refusing to make such a finding with respect to C.J.P.U.’s father (“J.C.P.C.” or “appellee”), who remains in El Salvador. We agree with the mother that, on the record before us, such a finding is mandated. I. The SIJ Status Statute2 Under the immigration laws of the United States, an immigrant juvenile, or someone acting on their behalf, may petition for SIJ status. As originally enacted in 1990, the statute required a finding that a juvenile applicant was “eligible for long-term foster care,” 8 U.S.C. § 1101 (a)(27)(J) (1998 Supp. III), thus effectively limiting the status to juveniles who had no parent to care for them. 2 A further description of SIJ status can be found in a number of sources. See e.g., Cristina Ritchie Cooper, A ...

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