Today I and my colleague Marilyn Levy had a rewarding win before Superior Court Judge Louis Sceusi in Morristown, New Jersey. This was our second appearance in this case before this judge, and I was very concerned about the outcome because the first appearance we had before him went very badly. At the first hearing the court seemed very hostile to the case, particularly to the client's mother who had entered the United States illegally. I was afraid that our 19-year-old client would have that held against her, and that we would lose.
These cases require that a parent or other responsible adult sponsor a non-citizen juvenile under 21 in a complaint for custody, and that the state court make findings necessary for the juvenile to apply for "special immigrant juvenile status" before US immigration authorities. The findings necessary are that the juvenile was the victim of abandonment, neglect or abuse at the hands of "one or both parents"; that reunification with one or both parents is not possible on account of the abandonment neglect or abuse; and that it is in the juvenile's best interest to remain in the United States.
In this case our 19-year-old client was born out of wedlock to a father who was a professional, but also something of a pervert who targeted young girls. He treated our client terribly, sometimes acknowledging to her in private that he was her father while other times humiliating her in public by claiming that he wasn't. He also consistently refused to provide her with any financial support, and when she turned 17 began to treat her inappropriately. After that, and because our client had nowhere else to go, she fled to the United States to be with her mother, who was supporting her by sending money home to her.