Romero v. Perez

Celso Monterroso Romero v. Josefa Perez, No. 2477, September Term 2016 Filed March __, 2018. HEADNOTES: Aliens, Immigration, and Citizenship – Special Immigrants – Burden of Proof Special Immigration Juvenile (SIJ) status petitioners must prove each of the SIJ factors by a preponderance of the evidence. 8 U.S.C. § 101(a)(27)(J); 8 C.F.R. § 204.11. Aliens, Immigration, and Citizenship – Special Immigrants – Procedure The circuit court, when petitioned by an applicant seeking SIJ status, must make individual factual findings on each of the factors required by 8 C.F.R. § 204.11. Circuit Court for Baltimore City Case No. 24-D-15-002928 REPORTED IN THE COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 2477 September Term, 2016 _________________________ CELSO MONTERROSO ROMERO v. JOSEFA PEREZ _________________________ Eyler, Deborah S., Leahy, Friedman, JJ. _________________________ Opinion by Friedman, J. _________________________ Filed:April 4, 2018 Appellant, Celso Romero, appeals a circuit court finding that his son, R.P., was not neglected, abused, or abandoned by his mother in Guatemala. Because the circuit court made the necessary factual findings to support its ruling, we affirm. DISCUSSION R.P. was born to Celso Romero and Josefa Perez in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, in 1998. Romero immigrated to the United States and has resided in Baltimore since 2004. R.P. was raised by Perez until he joined his father in the United States in 2015. R.P. then began the application process for Special Immigration Juvenile (“SIJ”) status to seek lawful permanent residence in the United States.1 To begin the process of obtaining SIJ status, immigrants already residing in the United States must obtain five findings from a state court: 1) The juvenile is under the age of 21 and unmarried; 2) The juvenile is dependent on the court or has been placed under the custody of an agency or an individual appointed by the court; 3) The court has jurisdiction under state law to make judicial determinations about the custody and care of juveniles; 4) Reunification with one or both of the juvenile’s parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment or a similar basis under state law; and 5) It is not in the “best interest” of the juvenile to be returned to his parents’ previous country of nationality. 1 Because this case arose as a custody petition, Perez is styled as the defendant below and the appellee here. She did not respond to Romero’s initial motion or this appeal. Additionally because it arose as a custody petition, this appeal was designated for expedited treatment pursuant to Rule 8-207(a). Because the instant appeal is from denial of SIJ findings, not “from a judgment granting, denying, or establishing custody,” the designation was subsequently withdrawn. In re Dany G., 223 Md. App. 707, 714-15 (2015) (citing 8 C.F.R. § 204.11). Circuit courts are required to take evidence and make individual factual findings on each of these factors when they are petitioned by an immigrant applying for SIJ status. Id. The circuit courts, sitting as juvenile courts, retain jurisdiction over these matters until the petitioner is 21 years ...

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